Non-fiction Words by Matthew Clair
It's funny what the media chooses to portray. Not to sound like the indefatigable rants of Sarah Palin, but it is true that the for-profit media often does have a bias -- and it is toward the sensational, toward what sells. In this little note, I am speaking of the recent CNN article that focuses nearly exclusively on the fact that Daisy Rockwell "paints terrorists."
Not that she doesn't paint terrorists, because she does. And not that her recently published book of paintings and essays on terrorism isn't perhaps the most topical reason for discussing Rockwell, because it is. It's just that in our age of fear and loathing and in a moment in which attacking Iran is, increasingly, a very real possibility, any discussion of terrorism should approach the topic with care, with consideration, with complex thinking, and with-out sensationalism.
And this is exactly what Daisy Rockwell intends to do in her work generally and in her paintings of individuals who have committed and have attempted to commit acts of terror, in particular. She depicts these individuals in a way we have never seen them -- as human beings in all their vulnerability. It's scary, really, to see these people in such a light -- these people who have planned or committed unspeakable horrors. And yet, we are reminded that these are, well, people -- they are human, they are complex, they have feelings just like us. How much scarier, cautionary and devastating this all becomes when we realize the latent potential for such horror within all of us.
As I glance, with an altogether different type of fear, at the comments section of the CNN article on Rockwell, I am unsurprised. Anyonymous comment after anonymous comment derides Rockwell, based simply upon a cursory, and quite narrow, examination of her larger body of work and the statement she is trying to make in these particular portraits.
Rather than speak for Rockwell, I have provided several links below to Rockwell's website, her twitter feed and other places where you can learn more about her work and her intent. In this way, you can come to a greater understanding and critique of her work -- the very same thing, I have come to conclude, her work challenges us to do with those we fear the most.