All posts filed under: From the Archive

2016: A Year of Monumental, Collective Failure

Do you feel impotent watching fascists on the march? You are not alone! You are so not alone! So in deference to your “shattered dreams” as Dr. King calls a hallmark of our mortal life, I am acknowledging you and your failures + shattered dreams, by acknowledging a few of my own. Two op-eds I couldn’t publish because one took on the largest owner of images in the world + the other arguably the largest owner of human souls, namely the office of the incoming president elect. But the failure is all mine! Surely, this work is inadequate and undeserving of a human audience. The bots can scrutinize it, as can any future interrogators. I leave my original headlines with the assumption that others could have done better, much, much better, because America will be great, so great, again! And at the end, a list of celebrities who have led the charge in normalizing the highly abnormal or flipped and gone full on fascist. By inauguration day/anticipated date of an American Kristallnacht, I will surely …

*InstArchive* on Instagram

I’m trying something new because I’m American and tradition is boring we are made to think/believe/made to think is make believe. Everyday on my Instagram (@amandarivkin) I am posting a new image from my archive that is paired with a bit of “on this day in world history”. It’s how I’m taking it to the streets, building the ol’ personal brand, sharing my love of history, and finding meaning in my own work. It’s only a few days old but already we’ve been to Davenport, Iowa; Baku, Azerbaijan; Reyhanli, Turkey and today Spotsylvania, Virginia. Czech it out! MAY 9: On May 9, 2012, Obama announced his support for gay marriage in a television interview with Robin Roberts. In this image from my archive, witness Connie Fuller, 39, takes a picture of Rock Island, Illinois couple (l-r) Curtis Harris, 50, and Daren Adkisson, 39, after they picked up their marriage license first thing in the morning at the Scott County Recorder’s Office the first day same sex weddings are legal across Iowa in Davenport, Iowa on …

From the Archive: The United States of AmeriKitsch

* “Kitsch is the inability to admit that shit exists.” – Milan Kundera Kitsch has the potential to unite all people, irrespective of culture, background, or elitist pretensions. Objects we acquire or accumulate have no meaning until we provide it. The uses for kitsch are infinite. Milan Kundera notes that kitsch is not just the “inability to admit that shit exists,” but also it is the natural aesthetic of all politicians. Last fall in a video interview for Fortnight Journal, I suggested that kitsch might just outlive us all – even the politicians. Yet most moments of pure kitsch happen far away from electoral politics, geopolitics, and the global spotlight. Kitsch injects sentimental into the otherwise mundane. Bob Dylan said “even the President of the United States must have to stand naked,” yet how naked can you be when your person has become part of a larger cult of presidential kitsch? Does kitsch protect? As I prepare to leave the USA for a Fulbright grant to Azerbaijan, I thought it was time to look back …

From the Archive: Cordoba and “The Edge in Dissent”

“Cordoba had the edge in dissent,” begins Pakistani writer and commentator Tariq Ali in a section devoted to the one-time intellectual capitol of Al-Andalus, the once Muslim southern half of contemporary Spain that is home to one of the most spectacular works of Islamic architecture, The Mezquita, in his larger post-September 11 work, The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads and Modernity. Much has happened in the ever-complicated relationship between mine and Ali’s country in the last week since U.S. Navy Seals raided, killed and then buried at sea Osama bin Laden, who it turns out has spent several of the past fugitive years in an elaborate compound just off Kakul Road, the drive leading to Pakistan’s elite military academy equivalent to Sandhurst in the U.K. or West Point here in the U.S. The compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan was just 40 kilometers from the capital Islamabad. Not even former President and Head of the Pakistani Army Pervez Musharraf received such treatment, although he did assert he had gone jogging in the area in the past. The …

From the Archive: Europop Diplomacy

Two weeks from today, on May 14, the Eurovision Song Contest will take place in Dusseldorf, Germany after last year’s German contestant, Lena, won in Oslo, Norway with her song “Satellite“. More than just a Eurotrash version of American idol, a kitsch showcase, and an evening of Europe at its most fabulous, Eurovision embodies all the finer qualities of true geopolitics: ambition, scale, scope, grandeur, and the embrace of the superficial and culturally symbolic. Quite simply, Eurovision is that Saturday night a cultural kitsch observer waits year round for. While English is the unofficial language of the contest, many contestants still choose to sing in their native languages risking the ire of other competing countries – possibly with competing nationalisms. There is a “Slavic bloc” to speak of when the text message voting comes around at the final stage of the competition. With most Balkan countries putting forth respectably kitschy enough candidates to make it to the finals, usually under the tutelage of grand masters such as Goran Bregovic, the old fault lines of tensions …

From the Archive: The Beginning of a Post-Soviet Dream

Yesterday, I won a Fulbright (!!!) student scholarship to Azerbaijan. Today I began to reflect on what this might mean and began to think of some images, among many other things, that united me to Azeris and other people in the region. Peculiarly, the first thing that came to mind was this quote from my U.S. passport that anyone who has seen it from Bratislava to Baku (if you were a “Seinfeld” fan you must surely remember, “It’s been a long journey from Milan to Minsk…”) cannot help but memorize, recite and possibly even begin to call me “young man”. One friend sent a note when I received the Fulbright, “Go east, young man,” no doubt a tribute to the Horace Greeley quote in the latest U.S. passport design: “Go west, young man, and grow up with the country.” – Horace Greeley Additionally, I combed through some old images to find a few that united east, and west in some interesting form: (It is the 50th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs, celebrated as a …

From the Archive: Being with “The Bad Guy” on a Big Day

Qaddafi is a topic of conversation in and of himself, and his family an entirely separate discussion as well. He is the center of gravity of his own regime, naturally. The U.S. has announced it is not engaging in regime change (although not quite in those words), but has struck the compound where he resides with a missile. On another war front, Der Spiegel has announced to an e-mail list of its subscribers that in its print edition to hit news stands tomorrow, it will publish three images of U.S. soldiers posing with dead Afghan civilians. The Washington Post writes, “The photos are among several hundred the Army has sought to keep under wraps as it prosecutes five members of the 5th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, for the alleged murders of three unarmed Afghan civilians last year.” The consequences may prove more devastating than the Abu Ghraib scandal. The Guardian follows up with additional details about a dozen members of the unit, already on trial in Seattle and confronting life in prison or the …