Washington Crossing the Delaware 2 84X58" Acrylic and india ink on plasticised paper (hover and scroll to zoom)
Laying in bed one night, I had the image of Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze in my mind. I saw Washington standing there in his heroically majestic pose, bravely going forth to attack the British. I thought of that same scene in reverse; instead of going to attack the British, he was returning from sacking a typical suburban mall. I thought it was a bit funny and then fell asleep.
It was not my intention to make a derogatory comment on America, or on George Washington specifically, but to comment on popular perception of history, heroes, events and leaders: leaders who guide us forth into the suicidal plunge of environmental disaster with purposeful ignorance and deceit, enriching themselves by depraving others, and are then rendered noble for doing so.
History is the lie commonly agreed upon. (Voltaire) Which is to say that history isn't really history. It is facts found or invented, misremembered, written about anyway, misquoted, repeated, repackaged, given different meaning, told aloud, attributed to someone else, contradicted and written again.
The poses of the central figures in this piece are directly drawn from the famous painting. (FYI, the original painting is MUCH bigger.)
The figures in the boat are returning from a successful raid on a suburban mall, crossing through a trash-covered water way. The mall signage was largely destroyed by artillery; (the name of the mall was once the “Buy Stuff Place.”) Standards in writing have fallen so far that written language is reduced to nothing more than simplistic word pairings. (e.g., There's a box of socks in the river of trash called "foot cover.")
It is a world ravaged by pollution, and as such, the inhabitants have fake noses or other kinds of breathing apparatus. Even though their world is one of manufactured trash, it doesn’t stop their lust for consumption. Men can be seen on the shore unloading a lawnmower, though there is not a blade of grass to cut, never mind a lawn.
The way back to the industrial fortress they call home is fraught with danger. There is a society living underneath the river of trash they’re crossing, a society whose one chance for meat is the soldiers returning from their raid. To the right of Washington’s vessel, we see a father and son from this underwater realm capturing the young son of a raider. The raider reaches out, too late to rescue his child. (Can you find the rest of the underwater peoples popping out?)
In the background above the mall’s parking lot, spirits are looting what has been left behind by the living. Smoke from the fire is attacking the spirits. Smoke, I figure, could very well be the ghost of inanimate objects, and it is getting revenge for the looting.
Near the bottom is "Capture," the fictional book that finally surpassed the Bible in sales. It is the sequel to “The Rapture.” The book’s protagonist, the son of God, is also the book’s author. In the book, the son of God writes a bestseller named "Capture." He offers those left behind a chance to go to heaven, should they only believe and follow the teachings of "Capture." Everyone takes this literally. Including its author
I should also point out the captive in plastic hand and thumb cuffs pleading with George Washington Jr. XI. No one ever notices it, and I don’t like pointing it out. Things too awful to think about feel better to ignore (which is, coincidentally, a quote from “Capture”).