Iain Duncan Smith’s portrait made from photos of people who died for being poor

I’m respectfully reblogging this picture, because I do feel very strongly that this is an effective artistic statement about the way IDS has destroyed the people, whose images have been used in the construction of this portrait. I realise that this could be considered insensitive. One of the commenters over on Mike’s blog certainly believes that this is so. I disagree, as the artist has made it clear that he intends it as a satirical comment and is not attempting to use it to exploit the memory of those people for mere financial gain. He also makes it very plain that publishing it was a difficult decision, and he apologises for the pain it may cause the families of the deceased.

I think that Mr Wezorek has certainly not acted inappropriately in producing the picture. Rather, he has acted as part of the great artistic tradition that uses art as a medium for social comment, and to hold up a mirror to oppression, poverty, tyranny, abuse and corrupt and arbitrary government. In 19th century Russia there were the Wanderers, a school of painters that deliberately sought to shock respectable Russian middle class and aristocratic opinion, by painting the lives of the wretched, ordinary people of the Russian Empire as they were, not as the Tsarist authorities wanted them portrayed. The result is the classic picture, ‘Barge Haulers of the Volga’, showing a line of ragged peasants, all hope beaten out of them by the sheer hardship of their lives, with the rope around them hauling a ship up the great Russian river. It is one of the grand masterpieces of Russian art, and at the same time a terrible social document and indictment of Tsarism and the social system that created and prospered from such human misery.

Similarly, in Western Europe, realist painters and writers like Zola and Courbet also attempted to show the real, hard lives of working people in France and elsewhere, not as great, Romantic supermen, but as they really were. Wezorek’s painting isn’t realist. It’s much more like that the Symbolists. Edward Lucie-Smith, the art historian, in his book, Symbolist Art, published by Phaedon, makes the point that the Symbolists were disgusted by the corruption and stagnation of the modern age. For some this led to snobbery. Others were influenced and practitioners of forms of alternative mysticism. Still others turned to socialism. Their art also deals with issues like poverty. misery, and disease. Some of these images are even now both inspiring and disturbing. I believe that the artist behind this painting has shown himself to be a proper part of this aspect of art, and I do feel that it’s an appropriate way to keep the memory of his victims alive and not let this squalid, miserable excuse for a human being crawl away from their deaths unscathed. J’accuse.

Pride's Purge


 Click on image to enlarge:

Iain-Duncan-Smith Mosaic05

His victims:

Edward Jacques:edward jacques

Graham Shawcross:graham shawcross

David Coupe:David-Coupe

David Groves:david groves

Trevor Drakard:Trevor-Drakard

David Clapson:david clapson1

Annette Francis:annette francis

Nick Barker:Nick-Barker1

Leanne Chambers:leanne-chambers

Robert Barlow:Robert-Barlow

Cecilia Burns:ceciliaburns

Mark and Helen Mullins:Mark_Helen_Mullins

Martin Hadfield:Martin-Hadfield

Paul Reekie:paul-reekie

Tim Salter:Tim-Salter

Colin Traynor:colin traynor

Brian McArdle:brian_mcardle

Mark Wood:Mark-Wood1

Linda Wootton:Linda-Wootton

Chris Smith:chris smith

Karen Sherlock:karen sherlock


With thanks – and apologies – to Joe Wezorek:

Given this image’s inflammatory nature, I posted it with a great deal of trepidation. I had a hard time deciding if it was the right thing to do and I am still not sure. No, I didn’t have the consent of the families of those pictured, and I apologize for any additional pain that this image causes them.

‘War Minister’ is meant to be a satirical…

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