Monday, April 19, 2010

LACMA War Art - Propaganda v Representation

After reading Kristine Kuramitsu's article, I immediately began wondering about the different forms of art that are created in prisons, incarceration camps, and most prominently I wanted to look at the art created during the Cold War. I wanted to look at his as I found there was an exhibition that ran last year at the LACMA called "Art of Two Germanys/Cold War Cultures". A wide collection of paintings, sculpture, While not all of these works were created by prisoners of war like the Japanese internees, their work still aims to as accurately as possible represent the

During the Cold War, For East and West Germany, the creation of art and its reception by their people showed a reaction against the legacy of Nazism, and both parts of Germany revived pre-World War II national artistic traditions. The LACMA article about the exhibition and its collections show how this wave of war art "developed distinctive versions of modern and postmodern art—at times in accord with their political cultures, at other times in opposition to them". This exhibition represents in itself a kind of unified identity of war representation, made by over 120 artists, however few are prisoners of war like the internees. But Kuramitsu showed us how the individual art by internees was the best most accurate form of representation of the internment camps. This LACMA exhibition therefore represents this unity of representation by many people and the "Art of Two Germanys" collections reveals the complexity of work that aims to represent the experiences of those who witnessed or were exposed to stories of war. I realized that just like internment art which aimed to reveal the truth, they lie in comparison to the propaganda pictures that were released (which like those we saw in class, are among many media propaganda images and literature published about the World Wars as well) that show the internees in a seemingly happy environment. We are of course familiar with these sorts of propaganda images; those old black and white films that aimed to depict world war one and reassure America and Britain that all was well in the trenches, when the poetry of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sasoon actually illustrated the reality and the needless destruction of war.

As and extension of this discussion I would like to find out if along with physical pieces of art, there was any poetry or songs that have been handed down by grandparents to their children about the time spent in the interment camps. Considering we saw that art materials were hard to come by, it may have been very hard to write anything down, but seeing as we have discussed audio recordings and oral traditions of poetry and song as a form of recapturing history in our previous classes about jazz etc, it would be interesting to see if any existed that represent time spent in the camps by these internees.

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