Wednesday, September 20, 2006

(54) Potential misreadings

Even in recent paintings, the possibility exists that viewers might misconstrue pictures of innocents in hellish situations as hell scenes. In the exhibition catalogue for Cheech Marin's Chicano Visions, p. 117, Frank Romero's 1996 painting The Arrest of the Paleteros is carefully explained:
Paleteros, or ice cream men, were the most innocent and representative of transplanted Mexican culture in Los Angeles. The fact that they were frequently arrested for not having vendor permits attests to the kind of ludicrous racial prejudice that exists besides the other truly serious dangers of Echo Park.

The detail shown here is from the museum website.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

(53) legal implications

A consequence of the way the years are mapped onto the triptych format, so that bad years go in the hell scene, is that when the years include crimes that have victims, the victims are in the hell scene too. The picture of a person attacked by dogs resembles a medieval artist's way of showing torments after death, but it is also a condemnation of the practice of, according to reports, literally feeding people to dogs as a means of intimidation.
Such an event was reported to have taken place in Cholula in 1519. The document shown just below is from has been published together with documents from a 1529 trial. (See here for translations of the captions.)

Friday, September 01, 2006

(52) organization of the triptych

The organization of The Garden of Delights/El Jardín de las Delicias combines elements from different cultures into a hybrid memory system. The year signs are loci for remembering events that took place over the course of ten years. Perhaps since it is not easy to remember ten of anything (psychologists expect people to be able to remember more or less seven digits), or perhaps to make sure to remember good and bad, the years are placed in different locations on a conventional looking triptych. Cortés landed in New Spain in a good year, and the year after that was a bad year. The triptych format not only organizes memories of years but also serves as a model of a Biblical tabernacle.