Killers at the Whitney Biennial 2022

 

Staged Photographs of Erik Prince, American born 1969, the founder of the private military company, Blackwater

 

 

The focus of the photographer’s work is the White American elite as they are today: their habits and the ways in which they sustain their position. 

 

The photographer stages photographs – using actors – of people who are alive. 

 

In the titles of these photographs are phrases from the financial and war industries:

esoterica the understanding of which identifies elite club membership.

 

The photographer is himself a member of this elite by reason of his birth and private education.  His motives are more complex than an urge to mock and subvert.

 

He wants to understand why (many) North Americans find his subjects and their way of living both a cause for resentment and for admiration and even envy.

 

To my knowledge, the photographer has not been contacted or legally threatened for this work about Eric Prince.

 

 

 

 

The photographer was 34 when he staged and shot these photographs of Eric Prince, at 34,  as he – the photographer – thought Mr. Prince would have been in 2003 on his ranch in Wyoming. 

 

Converted to Roman Catholicism as an adult, Eric Prince describes himself as a believing, active member of that faith.

 

Eric Prince served 5 years in the Navy, the last two as a Navy Seal. 

 

1994: He has said that it was the Rwandan genocide that moved him to act.

 

1995: Eric Prince has said that it was his work in the former Yugoslavia that gave him the insight that there was a need for private training facilities for special operations.

 

1997:  Eric Prince founded Blackwater which was the largest private American military contractor.

 

 

 

Rain in Rifle Season, Distributions from Split Interest Trusts, Price includes Uniform, Never Hit Soft, 2003, 2021; inkjet print. 

Buck Ellison, American born 1987

 

The book is On War by Carl von Clausewitz, 1780-1831, Prussian.

The words under the SAIC logo are ‘an employee-owned company’. 

 

 

 

1997 – 2010: various institutions of the US Federal Government paid Blackwater $2 billion for classified and non-classified work in war zones and zones in which the United States had (has) ‘national ‘ interest.

 

Media focus on Blackwater began in earnest with the killing of 17 Iraki civilians and injuries inflicted on 20 more Irakis in 2007 (‘the Nisour Massacre’).

 

Brought to trial and convicted, 4 Blackwater personnel were later amnestied by Donald Trump as outgoing president.

 

 

 

 

 

Eric Prince sold Blackwater in 2010.

 

His (ad)ventures outside the United States have continued:

‘entrepreneurial’ activities in Africa and Asia.

 

It has been reported that Eric Prince has also sought to intervene in internal American politics with information and misinformation to support Donald Trump.

 

 

 

Fog, In His Light We Shall See the Light, Raintree 23 Ltd Ptnr, Excess Distribution Carryover, If Any, 2003, 2021, inkjet print.

Buck Ellison, American born 1987

 

 

 

Eric Prince’s work and philosophy is an unapologetic illustration

 

of the North American idea that the entrepreneurial spirit should be allowed free reign to address and resolve the problems of our world.

 

All kinds of problems including those which are normally undertaken by the state itself.

 

Capitalism and democracy at work.

 

 

 

This is what the photographer has said about these photographs which are 3 of a series:

 

“Eric Prince is often touted in the media as a war criminal, as a political shadow figure, as a monster.

 

“I’m interested in what happens when a viewer is forced to get close to ‘a notorious war criminal’.

 

“The camera is good at building desire but I am curious if it would also let us be curious……or feel empathy towards a figure like Eric.”

 

 

******************

 

 

 

Three Critiques: The Post-Human Manifesto for the Future; On the Origin of Species

Daniel Jose Martinez, American born 1957

Whitney Biennial 2022, NY

 

 

The artist disguised himself prosthetically and photographed himself. 

 

He used five well-known, pop-culture, post-human antiheroes to name these poses.

 

He says that science fiction can speak to us in ways in which other narrative techniques do not.

 

The artist attached a condemnatory manifesto for what he describes as our self-destruction and our destruction of all other species, ongoing:

 

 

 

 

“Three Critiques*  #3

 

“The Post-Human Manifesto for the Future; On the Origin of Species or E=hνÓ (+) We are here to hold humans accountable for crimes against humanity OR

 

“In the twilight of the empire, in the spider hole of the earth where the masters of the earth has gone to ground with their simulacral weapons, reality gives way to a violent Technological Phantasmagoria Celestial Event or

 

“Homo Sapiens are the Ultimate Invasive Species on the Earth or

 

“Modernism has failed us, the Empire is collapsing, humans are morally indefensible or 

 

“A world between what we know and what we fear or We came into this world to light a FIRE or

 

Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is an absurd one or

 

“Homines corruptisimi

Condememnant quod non intellegunt”

 

 

 

After the 2012 film, Prometheus, directed by Ridley Scott.  This was a prequel to his science fiction horror film, Alien.

 

 

 

 

 

After Bram Stoker’s Dracula, 1897; after Frank Murnau’s 1922 film, Dracula; after the 1979 film, Nosferatu, the Vampire; after Phantom der Nacht written and directed by Werner Herzog; after Klaus Kinski as Count Dracula.

 

 

 

 

After Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or the 1818, 1821 text The Modern Prometheus; after the film, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, 1994, directed by Kenneth Branagh; after Robert De Niro as Frankenstein.

 

 

 

 

 

After the X-Files created by Christ Carter, an American science-fiction supernatural series that originally aired on the Fox Network for 9 seasons from 1993 to 2002; after Alien rebels, after Alien bounty hunters, after Alien shape-shifters.

 

 

After Westerworld, the 1973 film written and directed by Michael Crichton; after Westerworld, an American science fiction series created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy which aired on HBO for 3 seasons from 2016-2020; after the Drone Hosts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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