Corrosion

 

The Last Supper, 1986, synthetic polymer paint on canvas.

Andy Warhol, 1928-1987, American. MOMA, New York.

The artist was raised a Byzantine Catholic and remained devout his whole life.  This painting is one in a series commissioned on this subject, based on the painting of this name by Leonardo da Vinci  of  1495-97.  This was the last series Andy Warhol painted.

 

 

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Dove is the patented name for personal care products made by Unilever, a multinational company originally ?Anglo-Dutch.  GE is General Electric, a large American conglomerate corporation.

 

 

 

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Language and the materials referred to, 1985.  Lawrence Weiner, American born 1942.  MOMA, New York 

The word ‘of’ is missing in this photo after ‘Loss’; but then it is all about corrosion.

 

 

 

The Drum Major Corrosion

 

On February 4, 1968, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  gave a sermon at the Ebenezer Baptist Church:  ‘The Drum Major Instinct’. 

 

 It is chiefly remembered for the preacher’s precognition of his death exactly two months later; for his modest appraisal of his accomplishments; and for his definition of goodness as an attribute of the heart translated into action.

 

Remember me as a drum major for justice, he said.

This drum major instinct, Dr. King said, is the desire to be important, to seek recognition.  This, he said, is what advertisers take advantage of.  

 

 

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Parade on Hammond Street, 1935, oil on canvas board.  Allan Rohan Crite, 1910-2007, American.  The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC

 

 

The National Football League Superbowl was played on February 4, 2018.  The ad rate per minute was in the million of dollars, so large is the audience. 

 

Dr. King’s family permitted the use of Dr. King’s definition of goodness in this sermon for an advertisement to sell RAM trucks made by Chrysler. 

His words were voiced over photos of ranchers, Marines and soldiers wearing camouflage driving RAM trucks through macho terrain.  As well as members of the public performing neighbourly deeds.  

 

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Detail of Parade on Hammond Street, 1935, oil on canvas board.  Allan Rohan Crite, 1910-2007, American.  The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC

 

This drum major instinct, Dr. King said, is the desire to be important, to seek recognition.  “This is what advertisers take advantage of.  

…..”In order to be a man of distinction, you must drink this whiskey. 

“In order to make your neighbours envious, you must drive this type of car. 

“In order to be lovely to love, you must wear this kind of lipstick or this kind of perfume. 

“And, you know, before you know it, you’re just buying that stuff……….

 

“It’s nothing but the drum major instinct.….You’ve seen people riding around in Cadillacs and Chryslers who don’t earn enough to have a good T-Model Ford……………But it feeds a repressed ego.” 

 

Dr. King’s family has justified their permission by saying that its use to sell RAM trucks was in the spirit of Dr. King’s speech. 

 

The earth under our feet shifted and gave way a little.  Erosion.  

Steadying ourselves, we went back into our houses, sat down, googled this speech, and read it.  

 

Goodness, Dr. King had said, is as an attribute of the heart translated into action.

 

 

 

 

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