Dual World comes from W.E.B. DuBois’ concept of Double Consciousness. The title of the series is a play on the gaming term, dual wielding, for fighting with a weapon in each hand. The double exposure photos were made in-camera by shooting twice before advancing the film.
Templo Girasol, or Sunflower Temple, was shot last winter on Sunflower Lane in Hoffman Estates. The first exposure is my shadow over a temple that we carved out of a snow pile. The second is the reverse view of a sunset between the houses across the street. After developing, I liked the way the sky in the first shot came out as a rich and dark blue, making the orange of the sunset pop, as if it completes the sky in the second frame. I was also happy about the way the rooftops in the second frame broke up the color of the snow in a geometric way.
I get my color film developed at CSW Film Systems; the best kept secret in town.
We witnessed a mini-revolution here in Illinois this week. You’ve heard of the Republican wave that took the House and Senate this week. Our candidates, Rep. Tammy Duckworth and Senator Richard Durbin, survived but it came as a shock to many of us that businessman, Bruce Rauner, will be our new governor. There’ve been low spirits and griping among many in the northern part of the state. How will we survive these next six years with Scott Walker 2.0 at the head of our government?
Outside of the “population center” people are happy about the news, as long as we have some change to the old, corrupt system… Time to see how that hopey changey stuff works out for all of them. Only time will tell how this all plays out but we’re the one’s that have to struggle though it. Woe is us, right?
Violence in Mexico has lost the power to capture headlines in the past decade but that doesn’t mean it’s gone. The fact that the PRI, a politcal party that ruled the country for decades before losing control at about the same time that the violence was ramped up, is now back at the helm of the government could be one of the reasons that we hear less about this problem. I’m too far outside the bubble to fully understand what’s happening down there but the disappearance of 43 student protesters was a story that nagged at me like a toothache that I’m afraid to have checked out.
The way I’ve heard the story is that some students were handed over to the cartels because they were at risk of disrupting a party that was being held by a Mayor’s wife. The charred remains of the young protesters were found and the cartel has admitted to the killing. This cooperation between the drug trade and government to shut down dissenting voices doesn’t come as a surprise but it does echo throughout Mexican history. The story of the Niños Heroes de Chapultepec isn’t exactly the same but the loss of engaged young people that stand proudly in defense of their country is. For them to die at the hands of their own government doesn’t sit well.
Last night, the bubble that I felt outside of burst when the Attorney General of Mexico ended a press conference by saying “Ya me canse/I’m tired” and walking of out the room. This appears to have set the country on fire. I’ve seen a few images here and there, of the National Palace on fire and police huddled together in riot gear about to be over taken. The hashtag
#YaMeCansé has overtaken #AyotzinapaSomosTodos. The people finally agree with the government about something, they’re tired too and they’re not going to take it anymore. This is both inspiring and terrifying. My feelings about it are tied in a knot.
That’s all I can get out at the moment but I’ll say that I’ve checked my privilege. Any loses I’ve chalked up in the last few weeks pale in comparison to what’s happening in Mexico City right now. An old friend had a saying that applies to my problems here at home “Cry two tears in a bucket.”
*This isn’t reporting. It’s an unresearched account of my reactions to something that’s happening right now, in a city far, far away but close to my heart.
PS. As I proofread this post, a story came out saying the fire was either staged or the work of a single “anarchist” who was protected by the men in riot gear… We’re going to have lots of conflicting narratives on this one.
Gwendolyn Zabicki is a painter from Chicago. She earned her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2005 and her MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2012. Her work has shown at Robert Bills Contemporary, Comfort Station, Gallery 400, Northern Illinois University, and The Bauhaus Universität in Weimar, Germany. She is the founder of the South Logan Arts Coalition and the pop-up exhibition space, Frogman Gallery. Currently, she teaches painting and drawing at the Lillstreet Art Center and runs the Lillstreet Artists Lecture Series.
About Gwendolyn’s work:
The urban landscape is full of small stories. There are some that we are allowed to read, like the story told by a commemorative monument, while others, more personal ones, are concealed. An unreadable sign is like a cipher, or even a muffled scream. It draws more attention to itself because it can’t be understood. I am influenced by the American painters Maureen Gallace, Lois Dodd, and Emmett Kerrigan, who make the personal narratives that are hidden in the landscape visible. Also, I look to Wilhelm Sasnal, George Ault, and Peter Dreher, makers of iconic, falsely-modest imagery that act as stand-ins for historical memory, even trauma.
I paint in oils, (often outside and often at night) in my neighborhood of Logan Square. These are quick, small paintings inspired by the Bosnian-American novelist Aleksandar Hemon. He wrote that Chicago “was built not for people to come together, but for them to be safely apart.” He argued that in an attempt to build individual freedom, privacy, and independence into the urban landscape, the city’s planning and architecture instead reinforce loneliness and isolation. We can see evidence of life happening around us, but feel shut out of the private lives of others.
My paintings explore the shared melancholy produced by life in this kind of city, in which small moments of looking drive home our apartness from one another. The Turkish word hüzün–used throughout Islamic literature–seems to encapsulate precisely Hemon’s sentiment. Hüzün describes the experience of living among architectural reminders of a city’s past inhabitants, achievements, and ideals. Hüzün is the unspoken medium of these paintings, their inexpressible language. My work takes what is briefly glimpsed as its subject, hinting at the lives of others who will remain forever unknown to us.
You can view Gwendolyn’s paintings at Morton College. 3801 S. Central Avenue, Cicero, Illinois 60804. Building C Second floor, across from the Student Union. This exhibition is free and open to the public.
Curated by Diana Gabriel