20 October 2014

Back to 'God Is Our Witness'

Last year I started a series called God Is Our Witness (working title), which I envision as a four-part series of prints dealing with some of the history of the gay liberation movement in the last half of the 20th century. After finishing the first group of prints back in November, 2013, I took a break from the series. This was partly because I turned my attention in a different direction, towards Secret Codewords of the NSA which I finished in June. But it was also because I unnerved myself a little with the first Chapter of 'God Is Our Witness' (I'm calling each section a chapter). Titled "The Curse," Chapter One is a group of prints about exile and isolation. Emotional isolation was an experience I lived in for many years, now thankfully in my past, and it's been a large part of life for many LGBTQ people until very recent generations. Digging into it was painful, yet it felt like a necessary part of telling the story.

So after this long pause, I'm moving into the second Chapter, called "Counterspells," which I expect will be a celebration of some of the groups and organizations that helped move GLBT rights forward in the U.S. from the middle of the 20th century to the present day. The Chapter Opener is a somber beginning to this celebration, however.

In World War II Nazi concentration camps, a downward-pointing pink triangle was sewn on the uniforms of imprisoned gay men and other sexual offenders to identify them to the guards as well as to other prisoners. Sometime in the mid- to late-1970s, the gay community claimed the pink triangle as an international symbol of gay pride and it is still used today (although not as often as the rainbow flag). I used the faux pink fabric that I made a couple of weeks ago to make these triangles, which I sewed onto paper printed with stripes.

As I currently envision this chapter, it will consist of prints based on the shape of the triangle.


Andrew Stone said...

Not was I was expecting from the lovely pink "fabric" you were printing...but I understand how this fits in the evolving work.
As you describe in your post, among the issues raised by this small applique was the forced "outing" of individuals; the yellow star for Jews and the pink triangle for gays were required so the Public would "know" who among them was Jewish or Homosexual....as they might otherwise have remained anonymous or inconspicuously "hidden" among the so-called "normal" population. The Nazis and Fascists deliberately made conspicuous individuals who were often fully and uneventfully part of their communities until prejudice, bigotry and political motives made them targets for repression.
The "alerting" the population of "hidden" dangers in the community rises again and again when it's politically convenient (McCarthy and the communists in the 50's and the rising tide of hints at the "risk" of returning Muslim jihadists infiltrating our nation..) I understand the power of taking a symbol of repression and subverting/inverting it to become a positive symbol of inclusion and strength. So, I'm curious to see where you take this and will follow along to see what you have to say.

Annie B said...

Thank you for your thoughtful words, Andrew. We do this stuff over and over again don't we? It's so politically useful to have an enemy; a scapegoat. I guess it's irresistible.

Annie B said...

Oh, and I will admit that I had some trouble turning that pretty pink "fabric" into these triangles. I look forward to doing something different with that technique in the future -- something more beautiful.