Mint Museum of Craft + Design

Mint Museum of Art

Charlotte, NC



New Frontiers #4: elin o'Hara slavick

March 4 - May 20, 2000


As the fourth exhibition in the New Frontier series dedicated to emerging contemporary artists in the South, "New Frontiers #4: elin o'Hara slavick" presents the most politically engaged work in the series to date. An Associate Professor of Art at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, slavick's multimedia installation includes photography, drawings, and conceptual work that explore on various levels the interconnectedness of the American military and American tourist presence throughout the world.

The artist presents a conceptual investigation into the similarities between the soldier's and the tourist's eye. slavick explores how operations of power, privilege and destruction characterize the manner in which the soldier looks down the barrel of a gun and how a tourist looks through the view finder of his camera. While the soldier sets his sights on an enemy target, the tourist tries to capture the exotic, the foreign. (left: Untitled)

slavick' s work suggests that the attitudes of 19th century Western civilizations toward the colonial cultures they dominated find contemporary realization in the practices of today's soldiers, travelers and civilizations alike. Invasion for the artist occurs at the numerous points in our society and is directed at various targets.

In her series of drawings, Places the United States has Bombed, the artist creates vibrant, jarring interpretations of the geography that has served as the bull's-eye for many manned and unmanned bombing raids. In her Bombing Baghdad, the First 24 Hours, the artist provides an aerial view of the city of Baghdad, figuratively spotted with the red blood of the casualties. The importance of the map as the source of information connects these horrible images with the needs of the traveler, who must rely on cartography for guidance. The exhibition also includes a series of travel posters that the artist has created from photographs taken during her travels. By putting herself in the position as recorder, the artist opens herself to the same critique as an exploiter of "foreignness" that she wages at those who travel. (left: Iron Mike, soldier monument, Ft. Bragg, Fayetteville, NC)

Like the Bombing drawings, her photographs of the city of Fayetteville, North Carolina explore the impact of the military on civilian institutions. In this case, though, slavick has replaced the aerial views of foreign lands with figure-based photographs of neighbors. Along with anthropologist Kathy Lutz, with whom slavick is collaborating on a book about Fayetteville, the artist creates startling and haunting images that serve as an indictment of the military's impact on the social life of the city. (right: Future Site, 1999, gelatin silver print)

The recent protests at the World Trade Organization's meeting in Seattle have called attention to what might become the defining issue of the new century - turmoil in the stability of the world economic markets. Trend watchers, economists and political pundits alike have identified the growing rift between the industrialized world of consumers and the production markets as the site for the international unrest in the coming years. slavick's lightbox, Global Economy, graphically exposes the inner workings of the international economic system that relies on exploitation for growth, literally laying bare the intricacies of the system.(left: We Are Our Own Enemy)

Finally, the exhibition features a scrapbook of photographic imagery that has appeared in the British leftist weekly, the Manchester Guardian over the last year. slavick has recombined the images into telling juxtapositions about the media's role in supporting and maintaining the economic and political systems that codify the split between the haves and the have nets.

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