“And The War Raged On” is representative of the body of work that I’ve been creating for the past several years—transforming everyday people into characters in romantic and fantastical modern mythology—working with models from all walks of life–from doctors to sex workers to other artists. Through extensive post-production, I put them into settings of epic proportion. These models are observed through an objectifying gaze which simultaneously casts them as hypermasculine while also allowing them to be vulnerable. Others in the body of work question gender identity and role-playing, and there’s even a nod to the idea of beings that might not be entirely human.
In this particular piece, I’ve used two models that I have utilized in past works to illustrate conflict in relationships through dominant and submissive positions. Placing them in an environment made up of historical imagery, This mix of elements creates an out-of-time effect in the works and makes the models godlike. The image has a somewhat indeterminate narrative quality, allowing viewers to emotionally connect to the creation and give it its final shape.
Many of my works are a microcosm of what I feel about social and political dilemmas in the world today. With the standing figures back towards the viewer, the subject restrains the figure in his grip who would otherwise be free to fly away. The dominant character is not identified but represents an emotional restraint such as fear. The other two figures are two different aspects of the same person. The individual held down is caught in the grips of the feelings, similar to being held down by our emotional bondage. And the other is trapped by his submission keeping him in place, representing the repeating of his history. Also, his position, being beneath the original incident of conflict, describes the normalizing and unconscious repeating of patterns.
Using historical imagery to help illustrate the importance of our myths, I ask how we can break these repeated cycles? Am I trapped in romanticizing these positions because I still find comfort in them? And do we do this as a society?
A few months ago, the work attracted a poet who has begun writing sonnets for each piece which now accompanies the work. Here is the corresponding writing for this particular piece.
rage on boisterous outs of war bending
on and on in mortality, flesh our
inquietudes and piles of sending
wings into our presencing, into far
aways of nevermores and simple taste
of peaceless stretch engaging our peacing
of tomorrow now where three fleshes waste
notime’sdescent hell just worrying
time’s broken wings of outstretched arabesques
to silent almosts of the light turned pose
and posing nakedness in undressed risks
break our indentured here with our suppose
keep three in sudden blast of trinity
and give us back a calmed eternity.
Words by Terrel Hale
September 13th, 2021
This image is the focus of an upcoming short about the making of this body of work and what’s behind it. A short by Film By Rocket Films.