Eliot Dudik’s exhibit “Broken Land and Still Lives” showing October 1, 2018 – November 10, 2018 an artist reception is October 13, 6pm.
Broken Land – The idea of history repeating itself generally means that recognizing mistakes of the past prevents their recurrence. Current political and cultural polarization in the United States seems to have blinded us to the effects of our terrible historical schisms—divisions that led to the horrific and devastating events of the American Civil War and which, having not been recognized and resolved, seem determined to repeat themselves. The current political divide in this country is not dissimilar to that of mid-nineteenth-century America. And once again, political leaders today, as before, appear incapable of lasting and effective resolutions.
Perspectives on the Civil War and contemporary culture are many and are deeply engrained in our heritage. Prying open and examining viewpoints objectively is exceedingly difficult, but it is nevertheless an essential responsibility for all citizens if we are to recover any possibility of cultural and political cohesion. My goals are to create landscapes that come alive with the acts of war, and cause, at least, contemplation of the nature of being American, to allow understanding, communication, and cooperation with fellow citizens. These photographs are an attempt to preserve American history, not to relish it, but recognize its cyclical nature and to derail that seemingly inevitable tendency for repetition.
Still Lives – Born of ill-informed misconceptions about the motives behind reenactments of the American Civil War during the 150th anniversary, my interest developed in the mentality of the weekend actors who caravan a web of routes to re-perform the actions of war on surrogate battlefields. My initial contact with a re-enactor involved driving through woods on a golf cart, while the driver wept and recounted the stories of all his ancestors killed or wounded in conflicts dating to the Civil War. I have since learned that the motivations compelling re-enactors are incalculably complex, but generally address themselves to the preservation of history and appropriate honor for the fallen.
My deeper curiosity and exploration began after hearing a re-enactor say “I don’t die anymore.” I learned that he invoked this privilege on the strength of his years of service in the community. But the idea of controlling one’s death, choosing when and where to perform and re-perform one’s demise, says something powerful about our relation to historical representation—about our need for it, and about its conditions and limitations. These portraits provide a sense of the diversity of actors existing in this community, many of whom devote their lives to this performance, and strive to immortalize them in a fabricated state of tranquility as they hover above the ground they fight for.