Posted by pancho (220.127.116.11) on January 16, 2002 at 12:36:24:
...Cuts both ways. There is nothing more critical for anything than public exposure,be it a new bar of soap, an old product whose visibility needs constant attention, or an ethnic group with no real power of its own. There isnít a damn thing Assyrians can do about anything...thatís why we sit around waiting to protest, and it makes us Reactionaries rather than instigators or initiators. Being reactionary carries with it several liabilities, all of which we cart around with us no matter where we go. It makes us suspicious, cowardly, unimaginative, conservative where boldness is required...like prisoners in a maximum security prison who have no control over their own lives but focus all their time and energy either avoiding the powers that be, currying favor, or trying to foil them in sneaky and underhanded ways. It also severely limits ones vision,the horizon is very short for a reactionary as he sits and waits in fear for someone to either do him an injury, at which he can cry and lament,or an unexpected and even unintended kindness at which he is shocked and can never thank the bemused person enough, who accidentally conferred the favor he never thought was any big deal himself.
This last point could explain why at Federation banquets in years past there has been such an issue made of solemnly reading letters from bewildered governors and mayors "regretfully" informing the assembled Elite class we manage to drag out of mothballs once a year, that said lofty personage is unfortunately otherwise engaged or else he would rush down to the hotel lobby where these things are held to see us. Even a rejection has meaning for us and is desperately sought, much harder than any real distinction, when it comes from someone "important".
Itís also why, whenever an Assyrian organization manages to find three members, they proceed with "minutes" and programs and issue "manifestos" and "declarations" and send letters to presidents and governors and kings...all in the fervid hope that they will at least receive a rejection they can cherish, for it means their existence was at least acknowledged. And also why, whenever they have the opportunity to do a simple thing in a decent fashion,behave as if they were running a third world police state and "expel" members and "blast" competing organizations who threaten to eclipse them because they have four members AND a table.
These monuments were all about gaining us some public exposure...making the people around us, the ones with the real power, the ones we would love to be rejected by, notice us instead, and maybe take an interest in us. They werenít done as a way of fawning over anyone, or trying to impress anyone, though they are compelling for in spite of all we do, our ancient history as well as our modern saga, are impressive to the millions of people who either never heard of us, or thought we were long gone, once they learn of it.
Before I go any further, and since most of us make a big deal of tying our shoes correctly, let me state that to me getting monuments up in major cities is no big deal. I donít consider myself an artist at all...thatís like calling yourself a genius, it isnít your call to make. Only through time and a consensus among some portion of the worldīs population can the designation "Artist" be applied to anyone. I have too much regard for the Arts and the few true Artists I would recognize to ever place myself in their company...and I know I will never get there either, I had better not because then there is something really wrong. I had no intention of ever trying. The Arts were something I avoided all my life, couldnít stand what passed for art at all and never wanted to be identified with the racket.
But, I am a sculptor, I donít care what anyone thinks about the quality of the work either...if I wanted approval or money I sure as hell wouldnít have come to my own community. What I was seeking was a way to get some public exposure for this Heritage, and Iíll say it again that there is no way on earth, given the facts on the ground, that we could have done it better than with public monuments reflecting our Heritage. I donít mean that they had to be my monuments, but they had to be "good enough"...not Great...just enough to get us past the requirements and standards set by the kinds of cities that would get us the most exposure. And, sad to say, I was the only one willing to at least do the years of preliminary work necessary to develop the skills at least. In the same time it took to make Ashurbanipal I could have knocked out three lifetimeís worth of Modern and Abstract or Expressionist, or Minimalist, or Hyperdoodlist art. Iíve dropped pieces in my studio I could have cast and placed in any gallery with a title such as "Man Contemplating No. 3"...and probably sold too.
Thereís a reason that the ancient world built such intricate and impressive works of art and architecture, and that reason was Slavery. It takes hours and days to carve the intricate details found in our sculpture and that requires time, lots of it and a thousand Slaves wouldnít hurt either. Given the amount of emphasis we place on expensive cars and watches and clothes as the means of gaining distinction in this world, it wasnít likely that many Assyrian men or women would get away with breaking their parents Hopes by declaring they would spend the next ten years dirt poor in a studio somewhere focusing on the kind of work they hoped, HOPED, might have meaning one day to their fellow Assyrians and do them some good. Highly unlikely, and you can wait around and see when it ever happens again, which is why the treatment meted out to this one who did try by John Nimrod and Jackie Bejan and Atour and Janey Golani and their respective clubs, is so devastating to us as a community, if we allow it to stand, and so far I am the only one who says it will NOT stand. It was chancey at best that any Assyrian would try the Arts, AS an Assyrian...WITH Assyrian themes, as we could see by the indignity heaped on Rabel...and the effort to break my career and earning capacity, not the capacity to get that damn German Army Staff car, but to do more work, cast sculpture, pay for materials...or, god forbid, travel to museums around the world. After witnessing that the combined might of these puny organizations would come together to break one sculptor, others may well think a hundred times before embarking on an iffy career at best...with the added prospect that close to the summit will be a Jackie Bejan waiting to kick them back down, into the arms of an Atour Golani who will weep at the greatness of their art, then wrestle it from them and run off like a mad gnome to "redo" the piece and make it come out "right".
I told Nimrod that there was no loss at all for me in suing him, that there is no such thing as bad publicity for the artist. He avoided his day of reckoning because I settled out of court so he could cover what would have been his shame. But these people have no sense, they have no sense of proportion, and they have NO shame. In this upcoming matter I will again face nothing at all, have nothing to fear from the publicity. How can it harm me that Ford Motor Company was used by one of its supervisors, and a friend of the ownerís, to commit vandalism, thatís one of the charges, because cutting up or welding together or adding paint or removing figures, from any work of art is indeed vandalism. To Atour Golani it was an act of heroism done for "Nineveh, dear Nineveh". From his perspective, and it is a short one, he was merely making things right...fixing an error that I carelessly let slip by or ,as he says, did deliberately to save a few bucks...and in this he is of course backed by the other intellectual giants who lead us.
It wont be until normal people listen to him, until Ford says the equivalent of"YOU DID WHAT???"that Atour will blink twice and think once...and only in the expression in the faces of the jury and spectators, as well as the people at Ford who spend billions maintaining the notion in the public eye that they support the Arts, and they do, and are aware of the basic requirements implied by that position as patrons of the arts they spend so much to maintain...that Atour will recognize, in THEIR gaze, how much of a foot he put into how big of a mouth.
Two years ago I had to copy the historical information on the base of the Ashurbanipal Monument in San Francisco. As the old library building at the monumentís back has been undergoing renovation for three years now before becoming the new home of the Asian Art Museum, I had to ask the contractors to remove the wooden crate they built around the statue to protect it from effects of all the building and tearing down going on there. I called them and asked that the crate be opened just enough for me to see the inscription and a date was set. Theyíve ringed the entire block in a tall fence and I had to be signed in and all of that. One of their engineers, a Scottish fellow walked with me to the site, chatting about the huge project as we went. While we waited for the box to be opened, the engineer told me all about the statue of the Assyrian king, about the Assyrians...did I know they still existed? I hadnít told them I was the sculptor of the piece. I have had other people tell me about Assyrians as a result of that statue, and friends tell me that THEY have been told about it by others etc. Thatís what all this was for, and thatís why Nimrod and Bejan and Golani and the rest of them stopped it.
Public exposure indeed cuts both ways. We canít open ourselves up to scrutiny without showing off our warts and scars either. We canít show only the best parts of who we are, thatís why we have Fascist organizations who dwell so much on CONTROL and are scared as hell to just be open and above board. I know it wont work, that if we want public interest, public awareness, public sympathy of a good and constructive kind, then we canít control the gates...it makes people suspicious for they sense we are keeping something back. I am willing to be as open as is required. I donít care, pimples and all. I know it will take that if I want to make our Heritage of real interest to others, and it will be the good offices of those Others that will save us, there is nothing we seem to be able to do about our condition ourselves...nothing...thatís why we cheer on murder victims and split the hairs on the heads of bishops long dead and buried...these are all substitutes intended to make it appear that we are actively engaged...WORKING at our condition in the Modern Era...while the only really tangible thing we do is pay millions in taxes to destroy our homelands, kill our own people, and preserve Israel.
I have nothing to hide and my ancestry has nothing to be ashamed of, rather so much to be proud of...and I would be skinned alive before I would make a sculpture of any Christian saint or sinner.
I was stopped because I was fearless, well whatīs to be so afraid of anyway??... because I had nothing to hide, nothing to be ashamed of. The people I am suing are keeping these letters and amassing "embarrassing details" they think will sink me in court, without ever stopping to think they wont even be admitted as evidence...let them. They, on the other hand, have lots to be ashamed of, lots more than just what they tried to do to me and the monuments and my work and family. They have every reason to fear public exposure.
Why already, without even being charged, Atour Golani, a man supposedly known and respected for his honesty and uprightness, has had to admit to being a liar. When he realized that the knowledge that heíd welded my sculpture at Ford, with the help of their "expert" technicians and equipment, would get out...he changed his story, and like most children do, only made things worse...for if we are to now believe that a neighbor dragged the heavy equipment it would take to weld bronze from his own garage to Atourís and that this neighbor did the welding, then he still has to explain why he lied about having it done at Ford in the first place, unless of course he is going to lie about ever having said that to me, and his wife who adores him this side of Jesus Christ, is going to also lie to cover up for Christ who never lied about sculpture in his life.
And if we are to believe the story now...who is this neighbor, for they will have to produce every accessory to the crime...and it was indeed...a crime. Even then it is of no concern to the court or to me, I mean who actually did the welding...weíll indict the neighbor along with Atour, but Ford WILL care and thatís all he hoped to achieve with that lie, a little self serving one, like we all do. And there you have your president of the Federation, the man who writes third grade English to the Fourth Grader in the White House.
The artist has nothing to fear from public exposure, from publicity. Letís see how the rest of them do.
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