“Just don’t be a Dickhead” Boston Policeman explaining the rules of The Irish Day Parade in Southie

by the-biennial-project 21. March 2013 04:51

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The Biennial Project had always heard about the cheerful confluence of outright racism, homophobia and xenophobia that takes place at Boston’s Annual drunken Irish soiree known as ‘The Southie St. Patrick’s Day Parade’. Needless to say we stayed away for many a moon. This year, upon hearing about an alternative, inclusive march called The Peace Parade, The Biennial Project decided it was our duty as citizens of the great City of Boston to show up. The only way to change opinion on race and gender is through exposure.

“We’re here we’re queer, we’re fabulous don’t fuck with us!”

 On top of the activism, honestly, we went because we love love love a big party.

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Well, from what we witnessed, we were totally wrong about the attitude of the main event. Though the crowd was predominately white and Irish (it is their day) there were many ethnicities guzzling Vodka out of water bottles along side the pale skinned ginger haired crowd doing the same. Even with the shame of the gays still not being allowed to march, we saw a little bit of everything mixed in with the Bag Pipers, step dancers and drunken union workers. There were ghost busters, Storm Troopers, Renaissance people, Rat Pack impersonators, Latin Salsa dancers, skipping bananas, Hip Hop Clubs and a flat bed truck of what we think might have been Russian Strippers. It resembled the array of characters that show up for Biennial Project events. At times it felt like the color altered acid days of our teen years. We went to make a statement but in reality whole day was big green, foolish fun.

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For our global fans who might not know anything about our town’s history, here is a little lesson. In the 19th century Irish immigrants started to come to Boston in droves.

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The Biennial Project is not sure of the exact figures. We are far too lazy to look them up, but trust us; lots and lot of Irish came. So many that Boston still takes on the personality and flavor of the old country. With communities as tight as the Irish were in Boston intolerance formed. In the Early 1970s there were outright riots when the city started to bus school children from one neighborhood to another to harbor diversity and equality of education. For over 20 years Gay groups have had their applications rejected by Allied War Veterans Council who host the parade. In 1995 the rejection was taken all the way to the US Supreme court in the case Hurley vs. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Group of Boston, which ruled parade organizers do have a legal right to decide who marches in the parade.

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We never attended the Parade because of the outright
prejudice and also, lets face it, a big drunken Irish posse can seem scary.

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Last year an organization called Veteran’s for Peace started their own parade, after the big parade, to let the rejected groups march. Yes, it is sort like crumbs from the table but it gives visibility to the fact that the host organization still has fear in their hearts. The Biennial Project tries to conjure up some compassion for these old men who are living a life time of shame for that blowjob they gave as a teenager - but really. Is it too hard to admit you enjoyed it? Anyhow, The Biennial Project went to support The Veteran’s for Peace and stand up for our own rights. Kara Suffredini, executive director of MassEquality, said it well -

“I think this is the work we do every day of changing hearts and minds. There will be a day when we will be welcomed in this parade.”

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So enough with the politics, we went to stand up for our rights but we were really surprised by the inclusive, positive, fun and slightly weird energy of the big green party. What does this have to do with art? As usual we don't know or care - we had a friggin good time. Witness though our (fine art) photos.

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The whole day was cool as shit, with the coolest moment among many coming when one of the GORGEOUS AND FRIENDLY black cops charged with keeping the peace demonstrated the cool new boston with his chill handling of a drunk who stumbled dangerously close to the parade route. "Hey, don't be a dickhead", he gently warned the guy. The guy immediately changed course - trouble averted. None of the old-fashioned scary Boston cop I-bet-his wife-has-a-restraining-order-against-him posturing needed. And did we mention that these very same cops are currently starring in a nationally televised TV show produced by Dorchester boy Mahk Wahlberg called 'Boston's Finest'. There may be hope for our little seaside village yet.

Scranton with clams indeed!

Tags:

Guys We'd Fuck | Other Campaigns and High-jinks | Our Important Work with the Irish

The Save Ireland from the Curators Project (TM)

by the-biennial-project 26. January 2013 10:47

THE BIENNIAL PROJECT AWAKES TO FIND THAT WE HAVE ATTRACTED THE ATTENTION OF A MAJOR CURATOR:

Dear Mr Hess, Ms Rollins and Ms Salmeron,
I'm writing to you in connection to photographs on your Facebook page - namely Nos 18 and 19 from "Shit we liked at The Venice Biennale 54".
Corban and I would be grateful if you could remove these, as permission to stage/use these photographs was not obtained from us and the images present the artist, his work and the Pavilion in a less than favourable light. Also we find the captions rather derogatory, in particular: 

  • It is deeply offensive to refer to Corban as "a little person from Ireland"
  • Despite your claims he is not married
  • You comment about "Irish Slaves" is rather crass

Whilst we fully respect your artistic intention, we don't feel these photographs project a positive image about your work or that of a fellow practitioner.
I look forward to you response.
Kidnest,
Eamonn Maxwell
Curator
Irish Pavilion @ Venice Biennale

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WE REPLY:

Dearest Mr. Maxwell:

First and foremost, let us say how deeply honored we are to have received this notice from you. Finally, The Art World is paying attention to us.

Secondly, we would point out that putting one's work in the rather public forum of the Venice Biennale unfortunately does open one up to the possibility of being responded to by others in a less than a "positive image".

Thirdly, upon reflection, the "little person" reference was perhaps not our very finest moment. The artists of The Biennial Project are passionately committed to complete and total human and political rights for all of society's oppressed minorities, and this of course includes the height-challenged. Our comment was made in the context of praising Mr Corbin's work, and we thought that it was clear that we were poking fun at a stereotype rather than reinforcing it.

Which brings us to Fourthly - taking offense to the "Irish Slaves" reference. Really? Have you no sense of humor whatsoever?

We're from BOSTON for Christ's sake - we get the history of the Irish.
We arethe history of the Irish, a part of that history anyway."Irish Slaves"  built this town, swim deep in our personal gene pools, and have given Boston so very much of what we hold near and dear about our little seaside village. 

We're the ones after all who were insulted when Jack Nicholson did his usual crazy shtick while wearing a "kiss me I'm Irish" t-shirt in The Departed.

And way back when there were politics in the world, we're the ones who went to fundraisers in Dorchester for Noraid. (When the U.S. government bombed Afghanistan on the pretext of wanting to root out support for al-Qaeda, Noam Chomsky said it that was like the English government bombing Boston to defeat the IRA.) Hey there FBI agents reading this - finally something you can nail us with!

Not to mention that The Biennial Project usually plays well in Ireland - our website gets more hits from Irish users of the internet than any other country per capita. We have always attributed that to the Irish having a more developed ability to comprehend irony than most. 

Apparently there are exceptions to every rule. And because we know that manners apply even to those one believes to be misguided, we will take down the offending pics of Corbin.

More's the pity, we really do like his work.
XXOO,

The Biennial Project

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A CURATOR FRIEND OF OURS ALSO REPLIES:

Dear Sirs,
I am writing as a fan and supporter of the conceptual artist group known as “The Biennial Project.” As attendees at the opening reception for the Venice Biennial (with legitimate press credentials I might add) they took photos and published an edgy and satirical entry on the Biennial Project blog aptly titled “Shit we like…”

As luck would have it, The Biennial Project  had stumbled upon the Irish Pavilion. They really enjoyed the work presented there and loved chatting with the exceptionally friendly staff. When it came time for them to write a witty and sarcastic blog entry, they couldn’t help but to express sympathy and solidarity for these lovely ladies (and all behind-the-scenes art worker bees) by referring to them as Irish slaves. Perhaps it would have been more accurate to say (as they usually do in their writing) “gallery slaves”, but they were so excited to share with the world what they had seen that they couldn’t resist hitting the send button before the editor arrived.

And yes of course, they couldn’t let well enough alone and decided to have a bit of fun with Corban Walker by referring to him as a “little person” in their post. I will admit it: they and I love his work and are extremely jealous. We may be physically taller, but he is “culturally” taller than we’ll ever be.

In light of the above, The Biennial Project artists and their fan base were quite surprised to receive a “friendly” note from the curator of the Irish Pavilion which essentially represented a “cease and desist” order r/t the blog post referred to above. Apparently, as press-pass carrying visitors to the Biennial, they are not allowed to take pictures of the Irish Pavilion and present them in a way which didn’t show the artist and his work in a pre-approved light.

But wait a minute!  Aren’t we talking about Corban, the self-same artist who consistently references his bodily dimensions in sculptural work? Aren’t we talking about the fun-loving Corban who posed with Shaq in a picture which is readily available on the internet?

Yes all supporters of The Biennial Project were tickled. Yes we felt very important. Believe it or not, they don’t hear from upper-echelon international curators every day!  But ultimately we were sad. If freedom of speech and expression didn’t exist, Corban would not be having his 15 minutes…and neither would anyone interesting.

Truly in Art,
Cleah Saraholi,

WE ARE SAD:

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 BUT  AFTER A SUITABLE MOURNING PERIOD WE GET OVER IT:

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TEXT AND PHOTOS FROM THE CORBAN WALKER LIMITED EDITION ARTIST TRADING CARD THAT WE PRODUCED FOR THE 2011 VENICE BIENNALE:

Ireland Corban Walker

Born, June 23 1967 Cancer in Dublin (Baile Átha Cliath) (IE)

Lives and Works In New York

Parents were architect Robin Walker and the art critic Dorothy Walker,

Mr. Walker, 43 years old, is a minimalist sculptor and installation artist known for layering and stacking industrial materials like glass, steel and LED lights into precarious arrangements.

Mr. Walker's work plays with mathematical rules of order and scale, yet he occasionally adds a distinctive twist by making pieces that stand around his own height of 1.2 meters.

He has his own App for The Venice Biennale

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Tags:

Guys We'd Fuck | Our Important Work with the Irish | Venice Biennale Campaigns

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