Desolation row

Evans, Richard 2014, Desolation row, Uniting Church Queenscliff, Queenscliff, Vic..

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Title Desolation row
Creator(s) Evans, RichardORCID iD for Evans, Richard
Year presented 2014
Year created 2014
Material type art original
Series Postcards from the Cross, Uniting Church Queenscliff
Description of artwork Montage and original painting, acrylic on canvas, 105cm x 105cm
Publisher Uniting Church Queenscliff
Place of publication Queenscliff, Vic.
Keyword(s) capital punishment
Bob Dylan
Desolation Row (song)
Summary Desolation Row 105 x 105 cm Acrylic on canvas, postcards Richard Evans, 2014 ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:37-40 Artist reflection ‘They’re selling postcards of the hanging’ So begins the beautiful, eerie, strange Bob Dylan song ‘Desolation Row’. For nearly thirty years I had known and loved the song, and I had always thought that the song’s shock opening line was Dylan being arty and provocative, deliberately exaggerating to compel the listener’s attention. I was wrong. Bob Dylan was born in Duluth, Minnesota, an industrial port on the Great Lakes. There, on 15 June 1920, a white mob murdered three black men, because of rumours – later proved false - that they had raped a white woman. Elias Clayton was nineteen years old. Elmer Jackson was also nineteen. Isaac McGhie was twenty. They were dragged from police custody, and hanged. A photographer recorded the aftermath. In the glare of the flashbulb, a crowd stands around. Some looked stunned, others gleeful. In the centre are the three bodies, all stripped to the waist. One has been cut down, the other two are still hanging. Some entrepreneurial publisher saw commercial potential in the image. They really did sell postcards of the hanging. The constant repetition of traditional images of the crucifixion tend to numb us to their meaning. This is not helped by the tendency to idealise and sanitise what is shown. In a way, the mundane horror, the messiness, of the 90-year-old flashbulb photograph of the Duluth lynching tells us more, and more truly, about the crucifixion. In this work I have sought to combine the haunting image of the Duluth murders with the murder of Jesus, as it is depicted in traditional Easter postcards. The over-familiar and the shockingly familiar, combine, I hope, to remind us that Jesus died for you and for me, for the three young black men and for their killers. His love encompasses all the world. Even Desolation Row.
Language eng
HERDC Research category J2.1 Minor original creative work
Copyright notice ©[2014, Richard Evans]
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