Sunday, April 13, 2008

Two films on the Armenian Genocide and meeting an anti-Semite in Las Vegas

I met the man in the top image last November in Las Vegas, at the Rio Casino. A mime by profession, in this instance dressed as Charlie Chaplin . He noticed me working and flirted with me since he considered me to be a fellow artist. The Rio puts on a free racy stage show, with scantly clad dancers performing badly choreographed dance routines every half hour on the hour from 5. till 10. The mime, invited me to go out with him after work. He tried to impress me with his intelligence and started to talk about politics while spewing his anti-Semitic beliefs. "The Jews control everything", "the richest Jews left Europe and came to the USA from where they helped start the Holocaust". I have heard many racist comments but this one was new to me. I’m pretty sure it hadn’t occurred to him that I was Jewish. That or he wanted to get a rise out of me I’m not sure. I was not expecting to start up intellectually stimulating conversations with strangers in Las Vegas; my only intention was to shoot a new portfolio worth of work. Listening to anti- Semitic conspiracy theories, I can do with out. This man’s random rantings reminded me how ingrained anti-Semitism and racism are in our culture.

Last night I watched Atom Egoyan's film, "Ararat" (2002 release) about the Armenian Genocide after watching a documentary on the same topic, sent to me by The Genocide Archive Project in Boston. It was interesting to compare a purely historic telling of the Armenian Genocide to Egoyan’s personal approach. (Arrat mixes a fictitious story with historic detail) Though I hadn't seen either of the films before, it felt like I knew them both already. The number of dead varies form one genocide to the next, but the actions of the perpetrators against the citizens are not much different. The resulting photographic images of the carnage are almost interchangeable. I Think Arrat is a bold film  and I'm glad to have seen it before my trip.

I went to Vegas to create a series photo editors might more readily respond to, since my pitches with other dark topics haven’t been met with much enthusiasm. The resulting portfolio of images captures my general impressions of one of America’s flashiest cities, from the strip to the foreclosure signs. However no matter what I do my other project follows me; outside the casino NY, NY, is a monument those who lost there lives in the World Trade Center. I stumbled upon Vegas’ Sept. 11th Monument, directly across from MGM’s lion. The last image in this posting is from the Sept. 11th Memorial. A quote from George W. Bush. The quote says, "Like other generations of Americans, we will meet the responsibility of defending human liberty against violence and aggression. By our courage, we will give hope to others. And by our actions, we will secure the peace and lead the world to a better day".                                                     

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