The Dark Ages (2015 - Present)
This series of politically charged photo collages group together visually similar materials. All materials are sourced from an infinite resource of images found through Google, using both English and Arabic, using Goggle Translate. A few snapshots of my own from travels to Europe and the Middle East are amongst them, including a portrait of me as child hidden amongst others. In this era of the amateur photographer, the world is documenting itself though every facet of life and nothing escapes its all seeing eye, including war crimes. With the growing threat of global security at an all time high, I can no longer filter out the daily influx of horrifying news headlines and social media postings of crimes against humanity. In an effort to comprehend such events as the extremely complex and disturbing issues transpiring in the Middle East, including the capture and subjugation of Yazidi women to a life of sex slavery. How does one come to grasp something so alarming? I approached the subject in the best manner that I know how - through art and photography. Pouring through and collecting such gruesome source materials was something that I could only do for an hour at a time before I'd become too nauseous from the visceral imagery to continue; I'd often throw up and/or have to lie down.
This series began as my way of dealing with the horror and grief that I felt when the terrorist attacks in Paris began and France declared a national state of emergency. Paris is my second city, and so, as a passionate francophile and a scholar of the French Revolution, that became my starting off point. Alas the horrors of the world are not limited to brazen attacks on Westerners; they are insidiously everywhere!
One of our brains most basic modes of comprehension is through categorical perception. We have an inborn and learned tendency to detect visual similarities and to categorize them based on that cognitive perception. For myself, the brain often references art history. However, not all of these collages make historical reference; some compare one culture to another, or one era to another. My hope is that the viewer will become challenged to question the both the differences and the similarities between the visual materials, that at first glance blended together as being the same, and hopefully feel compelled to question the cultural and political implications of what they are seeing.
This work also comments on the photographic nature of the present - 20 years ago this would not have been possible to produce. They are a product of the global use of cell phone phone cameras and social media. With the sea of images that we are exposed to in our daily life, war propaganda has become one of the most prolific weapons of our time; question imagery thoroughly.
- Holly Marie Armishaw (2019)