JIM RICKS



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14th January 2009 (We will say it has nothing to do with us)
Artlink ‘New Art Award 2009’ and the Earagail Festival Fort Dunree
Buncrana, Co. Donegal
July 15 – August 14, 2010

I chose to use the widespread popularity and dissemination of the kufiya as a starting point to highlight the gap between this political-gesture-cum-fashion-accessory and the reality of the situation in Gaza. I referenced press photographs from the day Israel’s military campaign against Hamas began, to recreate fragments from the photos in the formal vocabulary of fashion show/shop.

“Yes, Israelis deserve security. Twenty Israelis dead in 10 years around Gaza is a grim figure indeed. But 600 Palestinians dead in just over a week, thousands over the years since 1948 – when the Israeli massacre at Deir Yassin helped to kick-start the flight of Palestinians from that part of Palestine that was to become Israel – is on a quite different scale. This recalls not a normal Middle East bloodletting but an atrocity on the level of the Balkan wars of the 1990s. And of course, when an Arab bestirs himself with unrestrained fury and takes out his incendiary, blind anger on the West, we will say it has nothing to do with us. Why do they hate us, we will ask? But let us not say we do not know the answer.”

– Robert Fisk

“Jim Ricks in 14th January 2009 (We will say it has nothing to do with us) uses press images as the basis of an investigation into the Middle East conflict with particular reference to the occupation of Gaza by Israel. The images date from 14th January 2009, the beginning of Israel’s invasion of the ter- ritory. He uses fragments of these photographs to create new contexts that explore our desensitisation to the realities of life under Israeli occupation and contrasts the unreality of the Fashion world with its emphasis on glamour and pretence which seeks to charm us and distance us from the grim reality of real-world conflict. The artist wishes to highlight the suffering of the Palestinian people through an exploration of the distance placed by those who control our consumerist society – who wish to make us forget or ignore reality by emphasising an unreal commercial realm where we can seemingly find fulfilment without concern for our fellow’s suffering – with actual conditions in the Middle East. Ricks also uses the medium of press photographs to explore the role of documentary photography (usually considered to be a form of photography covering significant and historical events; formally associated mainly with journalism but also now used by many artists and amateur photographers) in an age where we are overwhelmed by so many images from so many sources that we become desen- sitised to the horror that may be contained within. Born in California, Jim Ricks received his MFA from the National University of Ireland, Galway and Burren College of Art programme and his BFA from the California College of the Arts and has exhibited nationally and internationally.”

The Artlink ‘New Art Award’ projects were selected from an open competition in 2009 by the following selection panel: Dave Beech, Art Critic and Artist, UK; Maoliosa Boyle, Manager, Void, Derry; Brian Duggan Artist and Founder of Pallas, Dublin; Elaine Forde, Former Director, Artlink, Donegal; Adrian Kelly Curator, Glebe Gallery, Donegal; Mark Wallinger Artist, UK.

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Above: Associated Press and Reuters images of Gaza from January 14, 2009.

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