Posted by panch from ? (22.214.171.124) on Wednesday, May 15, 2002 at 9:37AM :
Dear Members and Officers,
Sorry to keep harping on this, but I think you should think long and hard about just what we are all facing...both as a matter of fact and for the symbollic content those facts represent.
A new development is the phone call from North Iraq to a friend of a friend "suggesting" that he and then I, "apologize" to the president of your Association...that if we did that...things would be "fixed" for us from over there.
This comes a few days after Rbi Yako called Narsai from North Iraq to "encourage" him to muzzle me. Apparently he somehow knew that Narsai still is a supporter and patron of mine, whose goodwill and help I would not want to lose...hint hint. To Narsai's credit he politely suggested that all calls should be made to me.
Someone here is calling people there to get them to intervene over here...to apply pressure, to "suggest"...with all that implies...and the fix wil be in. I will be contacting the representative of ZOWAA here to make some suggestions of my own. This is part and parcel of the same heavy handed, ham fisted attempts to censor Art here, made by a young ASSYRIAN artist no less...because of a color. This makes my charge that these people see us only as a cash cow...that they have no understanding or appreciation of the rules and customs and benefits in this country...that they are mean and small minded people who can have their heads easily turned, their pockets filled with cash to match the sawdust in their heads. Don't ever tell me again about how Simele happened...it is being set up by these people even now. Instead of gaining the real strength and support of the American people, who elect the politicians these guys think they'll buy at bargain...they go about violating rules of fair play and honesty...Americans don't like SNEAKS!
Your Association is now going to be included in an action which will draw in allegations that someone has tried to influence the course of a legal proceeding in this country by getting people from Iraq to call here and make "suggestions". All of the things done in the night...wil be seen in the light of day...that's why you go to court.
The main charge laid against me is that I am a "troublemaker". I defy anyone to point to a single instance where I have instigated trouble of any kind. No one in his right mind has suggested that my sculptures caused anyone real trouble in and of themselves.
Some people are troubled by tall mountains...you don't level them because of that...you suggest counselling for the person...not demolition for the mountain. Cater to every person's neurosis and you'll be left with a flat earth peopled by lots of "tall" neurotics.
My sculptures and monuments have brought pleasure and pride to our people, and shown us off in a positive way wherever I've been allowed to install them.
However, to expect me to turn my monuments over to a John Nimrod, or anyone else, to decide where they should go and how...especially when he is abysmally unqualified to make such decisions, is asking too much. No one who has invested as much of himself in his or her work as I have...as I still am, will stand for that...and the "artist" who would...will not get us what we need anyway.
I said all along that I would give the monument to the city of Chicago for their experts to choose the site, as they are obligated to do. I have some ideas about where a monument should go...the location as well as the purpose for which it was made in the first place. The city of Chicago has a highly respected and large staff of professionals whose job and training and feeling it is to make these decisions...based on artistic considerations as well as what can go where.
It came as no surprise to me that they selected a site that I was pleased with also. It DID come as a surprise that Nimrod would oppose that site because there are too many Black people at the University. One would have thought that having his wurld hinquarters on Clark street, he would have gotten over his aversion to Black Americans.
This "trouble" started when I would not allow him to take the project over at the last minute to use for his self-aggrandizement. he was not thinking of us...of his sister...of our Heritage...of anyone except himself and what this monument could do to further his claim that he is the best damn thing we've got.
I can't be expected to stand idly by while a project I conceived and spent 13 years completing gets bushwhacked by a man who sees it only in terms of his needs...a man who not only gave nothing himself, but who tried to discourage his sister from supporting my work.
In our weird way of thinking...I made "trouble" by standing up for myself, first of all...my work...my obligation to the donors, and all the rest of us. It came as such a shock to the thugs in Chicago that I would think myself qualified to help decide where my sculpture should go, or worse that I would dare take their Senator to court and beat him too...that they determined to block my attempts to get a petition signed...because all they saw was that I was making even more "trouble" for their main man.
To an Assyrian, it would seem...making "trouble" in the defense of your self, your family and work and Heritage, is a bad thing to do. We never consider what the person must have been thinking when he or she or they CAUSED us to have to defend ourselves. Nimrod and others have remained patriots and great people, allowed to speak and represent us...while I have become the Leper of Assyria for simply carrying through with what I know best...and much better than these others know...about how a monument, and sculptures dumped in a basement...should be displayed and installed.
Seeing what the AUA has done with that collection...and where THEY have chosen to house and display it...you can hardly wonder that I would hesitate to turn anything besides raisins over to them.
The same was true with the Hammurabi Monument. Having seen that Atour Golani, the Runt of Assyria, has no understanding for the sacredness of artistic expression, or the wishes of one who creates, or the Law...and that he would put his name and title on a document bearing OUR name...a fraudulent "contract" if there ever was one...that he would lie to my face in such idiotic ways that I could prove he was lying within ten minutes of his lie...I would be understandably hesitant to sign ANY contract handing over the rights to any monument of OURS!
I went to Mexico, after being driven out of the convention by nothing short of a conspiracy, with Janey Golani's words still ringing, hopefully, in my ear. "Just go to Mexico, forget about all of this and finish the Hammurabi...I have lots of donors for you". Only after arriving there was I told that there was another contract I would now have to sign before I would get any money...money from the sale of my own sculpture. I refused and they all must have thought that I'd be back, begging in no time.
I think when an Assyrian kid first tells his or her parents that she is thinking of becomming a writer, musician or artist of any kind...we should just shoot the kid dead right then and there. Why wait? Why squeeze the kid and hurt the kid...insult, scorn and misuse the kid, only to produce at the end a bitter, twisted person who wishes they had never done such a foolish thing as to become an artist and lay their services at the feet of our People.
The one category of person who could do the most for us in every way...is the one person everyone seems hellbent on breaking...as if to make an example to others. The one thing you need above all else to be good at your art is personal integrity...not even talent or skill counts more than that. I mean look around you...there is hardly any kind of standard out there for being an artist. You can have very little talent and no skills whatsoever...and you can still stumble onto something of at least passing interest and you might manage to feed yourself enough to live your natural life out...never with any security of course.
Without personal integrity...you can never go much farther than dabbling. If you don't know who you are, what you stand for, what is worth living for and even dying for if you have to...what can you hope to show anyone else about who they might be...might WANT to be?
I would not bend to the wishes of bank tellers, engineers, self-appointed experts, hysterians and thugs from across the waters. That was my real crime...having the courage of my convictions...a simple thing among any other people really...the idea that as a sculptor, I would know what to do with my work, and how to do it...even so far as to protect it, its own integrity, from the attacks and slanders and maneuvers of totally unqualified, unprincipled, uneducated people whose only real interest in my work is how it can be put to work to enhance their own personal prestige...is the crime above all others for an Assyrian.
I never signed on for that...and I'll be goddamned if I'll give in to it now or ever.
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