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  • I am a visual artist,

  • and I make revolutionary art to propel history forward.

  • I'm going to come right out and tell you something:

  • I don't accept the economic foundation,

  • the social relations

  • or the governing ideas of America.

  • My art contributes to fundamental change

  • by encouraging an audience to address big questions from that perspective.

  • Social change is hard, but ideas matter tremendously.

  • When I say I'm an artist, most people think, "Oh, he's a painter."

  • Behind me, you can see some of the kind of work I do.

  • "Imagine a World Without America" is a painting,

  • but I work in a range of media,

  • including photography, video and performance art.

  • A current project, "Slave Rebellion Reenactment,"

  • is going to be reenacted on the outskirts of New Orleans

  • this November.

  • In 1989, I had an artwork that became the center of controversy

  • over its transgressive use of the American flag.

  • "What is the Proper Way to Display a US Flag?"

  • is a conceptual work that encouraged audience participation.

  • It consisted of a photo montage that had text that read,

  • "What is the Proper Way to Display a US Flag?"

  • Below that were books that people could write responses to that question in,

  • and below that was a flag that people had the option of standing on.

  • The photo montage consisted of images of South Korean students

  • burning American flags,

  • holding signs that said, "Yankee go home. Son of a bitch,"

  • and below that were flag-draped coffins coming back from Vietnam.

  • People wrote long and short answers.

  • Thousands of people engaged with the work in a lot of different languages.

  • Some of the people said,

  • "I'm a German girl.

  • If we Germans would admire our flag as you all do,

  • we would be called Nazis again.

  • I think you do have too much trouble about this flag."

  • "I think that the artist should be returned to his heritage,

  • i.e., the jungles of Africa,

  • and then he can shovel manure in his artistic way."

  • "This flag I'm standing on stands for everything oppressive in this system:

  • the murder of the Indians and all the oppressed around the world,

  • including my brother who was shot by a pig,

  • who kicked over his body to 'make sure the nigger was dead.'

  • That pig was wearing the flag.

  • Thank you, Dread Scott, for this opportunity."

  • "As a veteran defending the flag,

  • I personally would never defend your stupid ass!

  • You should be shot!" -- US Navy Seal Team.

  • As you can see, people had very strong reactions about the flag then,

  • as they do now.

  • There were demonstrations of veterans in front of the Art Institute of Chicago.

  • They chanted things like,

  • "The flag and the artist, hang them both high,"

  • evoking images of lynching.

  • I received numerous death threats,

  • and bomb threats were phoned in to my school.

  • It was a very dangerous situation.

  • Later, President Bush called the work "disgraceful,"

  • which I viewed as a tremendous honor,

  • and Congress outlawed the work.

  • (Laughter)

  • I became part of a Supreme Court case when I and others defied that law,

  • by burning flags on the steps of the Capitol.

  • That action and the subsequent legal and political battle

  • led to a landmark First Amendment decision that prevented the government

  • from demanding patriotism be mandatory.

  • But let me back up a bit.

  • These people literally wanted me dead.

  • What I would do at this moment would make a difference.

  • This is me at the exact same moment,

  • eight stories above that crowd.

  • It was supposed to be for a photo shoot

  • that was going to take place on the steps where the veterans were at that time.

  • It wouldn't have been safe for me to be there, to say the least.

  • But it was really important to do that shoot,

  • because while some wanted to kill me, it was also a situation

  • where those who viewed the American flag as standing for everything oppressive

  • in this system

  • felt that they had a voice,

  • and that voice needed to be amplified.

  • The point is this:

  • changing anything --

  • whether it's conventional ideas about US national symbols,

  • traditional thinking challenged by scientific breakthroughs

  • or ousting an authoritarian president --

  • requires a lot of things.

  • It requires courage,

  • luck

  • and also vision and boldness of action.

  • But on luck --

  • I have to say, the photo shoot we did might not have worked out so well.

  • We laughed after we were out of the area.

  • But the thing is, it was worth the risk

  • because of the stakes that were involved.

  • And in this case, the luck led to a wonderful,

  • profound and powerful situation

  • that was also humorous.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

I am a visual artist,

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B1 US TED flag art artist photo photo shoot

【TED】Dread Scott: How art can shape America's conversation about freedom (How art can shape America's conversation about freedom | Dread Scott)

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    林宜悉 posted on 2018/09/17
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