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Nov 23, 2016

We, the Empire, Shall Prevail

World War I, or Standing Rock? You tell me.
It is true that Trump's ascendency has forced us to look at ourselves with a new sobriety. This is indeed who we are! We will never again be able to pretend that this is not OUR face. But even after the stunning results of the election I wasn't prepared for how suddenly the reality would make itself apparent. It was this photo of the military-style police "protecting" the pipeline that struck me. It looks like something out of the unspeakably brutal trenches of WWI. But this is the site of a threat no more dire than people standing up for their own clean water and religious freedoms. In reading this NYT article about the ongoing Standing Rock protest and the tragic response of our nation, we are seeing ourselves in our brutal ancestors!

If you read this account of the protest (or just about any other) and replace the words "pipeline" with "gold", this could be the account of the conquistadors of the 16th century marching across the new world, or the slaughter of these protestor's ancestors with the gold rush onslaught. What could be more stark than this snapshot: the ragged remnants of our indigenous peoples struggling to keep their last little shred of land free from further exploitation in the face of an empire marching mechanically into the heart of their nation to extract the last vestiges of valueable resources, oblivious to their cries? If any one of us faced the destruction of our cemetaries and water source would we not be on that bridge taking those bullets?  Of course the stolen gold is all gone, but a pipeline would move the gold extracted from other more distant victims home more quickly, home to the coffers of the king.

All this is happening under the benevolent reign of Obama, the most compassionate leader we've had in decades. But it's not his fault. It's not the fault of the companies that do our bidding, the figureheads of Manifest Destiny, Inc. This is who we are in the world. This is US, the empire! Now, finally, we must stand up and identify ourselves. There is no more hiding behind the curtain.

But after that––after we have shown our identity––then we have the chance to change. Let's hope it's not too late. A change of heart when the resources are all gone––then or now–– is not going to fool anyone.

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Tim Holmes Studio

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I'm a sculptor/filmmaker living in Montana, USA. I am using art to move the evolution of humanity forward into an increasingly responsive, inclusive and interactive culture. As globalization flattens peoples into a capitalist monoculture I hope to use my art to celebrate historical cultural differences and imagine how we can co-create a rich future together.

I see myself as an artist/philosopher laboring deep in the mines of joy. I've had a good long career of exhibiting work around the world and working on international outreach projects, most notably being the first American to be invited to present a one-person exhibit in the Hermitage Museum. Recently I have turned my attention from simply making metal sculpture to creating films and workshops for engaging communities directly, tinkering with the very ideas and mechanisms behind cultural transformation. I feel that as we face tragic world crises, if the human species favors our imaginative and creative capacities we can cultivate a rich world to enjoy.

For me the deepest satisfaction in making art comes in engaging people's real life concerns rather than providing simple entertainment or decoration. Areas of conflict or tension are particularly ripe for the kind of transformative power that art uniquely carries. I invite any kind of challenge that serves people on a deep level.