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Emasculation, American Style Print

Thomas Brodhead

United States

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About The Artwork

Despite campaigning on promises to the contrary, President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1993 a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy for the military, thereby making it impossible for homosexuals to increase home values *openly* on military bases throughout the United States. The direct, collateral, and cosmetic damage from this policy—ended through brute force of personality by President Barack Obama in 2011—is still being evaluated by property assessors, but the most recent victim would be the military itself. When 5'2" Bradley Manning made the highly questionable deduction that enlisting in the Army would be the best way to gain a PhD in physics, he apparently misunderstood the DADT policy to apply to conversations regarding the age of post-menopausal women, and therefore innocently kept a self-described "fairy wand" on his desk in order to brighten his own work space and those of his fellow enlistees. Although he was taunted and humiliated repeatedly for this faux pas of workplace decor, it was apparently the act of watching Björk's performance in the film "Dancer in the Dark" that truly sent Manning spiralling into a state of cold-war fusion. He thereafter contacted Julian Assange and transferred to WikiLeaks damning home videos of the U.S. Military clumsily performing its acts of derring-do on innocent Iraqi civilians (without any ameliorating musical numbers--horrors!) as well as its blogs concerning other colorless and truly uninspired foreign policy snafus. And, lest the point be lost on the reader, all were poorly formatted and edited, much as what would be expected from common heterosexuals. Despite his intentions only to reveal the embarrassing stylistic limitations of the Army's videographers and copy-editors, Manning was charged with espionage and sentenced to 35 years in prison, thus eliminating his physics PhD aspirations as well as dashing his hopes of dissuading anyone else from watching a Bjørk movie. With all media eyes following him, however, he chose after the trial to announce that the U.S. Army had been a fool all along, as they had court-martialed the wrong agent: The man standing before the press was not homosexual Bradley Manning, but transgendered Chelsea Manning, some random woman trapped in the enlistee's body. Now the U.S. Army must confront the most perplexing eventuality of its misguided DADT policy, as Manning's sentence may require overturning and the actual perpetrator—doubtlessly in control of the body of a lesbian dog breeder somewhere in the Pacific Northwest—will now have to be located and brought to justice. The quixotic artist here depicts the gender reassignment surgery of Manning in a way that forces the viewer to consider its cause and other disquieting questions: Was the U.S. Military responsible for the gender-entity transfer between the as-yet-unidentified woman and Manning, or were Julian Assange's anonymous followers a collective feminizing force in the psychology of the aspiring physicist? Is Guy Fawkes actually Gal Fawkes? When will Uncle Sam become Aunt Samantha? And is "U.S. Intelligencia" an example of oxymoronic metonymy? For answers to these questions, consult Google and Facebook, online oracles that would NEVER disclose sensitive information to the NSA. (c) 2013 Thomas M. Brodhead

Details & Dimensions

Print:Giclee on Fine Art Paper

Size:10 W x 10 H x 0.1 D in

Size with Frame:15.25 W x 15.25 H x 1.2 D in

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Delivery Time:Typically 5-7 business days for domestic shipments, 10-14 business days for international shipments.

A native of St. Louis who’s lived in middle Tennessee most of his life, Thomas Brodhead studied classical music theory, history, and composition at Oberlin in the 1980s. During those years, he pored over classical scores while studying orchestral and chamber works, unaware that he was absorbing geometric graphic design that’s been in his blood ever since. After college, he worked as a classical sheet music editor and engraver (music typesetter) for 20 years, writing original computer programs to set music notation so that it conformed to the best Greek proportions and geometries. (Importantly, he produced a Critical Performing Edition of the Fourth Symphony of Charles Ives, a work so rhythmically complex that it requires at least two—if not three—conductors to perform.) But arranging black glyphs on white paper grew tiresome, and starting in 2009, he turned to color and began to paint. At first, his paintings were cartoonish and comical, always paired with tongue-in-cheek artist statements on the meaning of each piece. Over time, though, he began to take his work more seriously, exploring color and geometry on large canvases (up to 4 feet by 3 feet), but never failing to pen an accompanying whimsical statement. But more and more the whimsy veiled serious social commentary, often on the dangers of transhumanism (the integration of humans and technology) and the infantilizing effects of social media. Painting and writing thus combined in a Wagnerian Gesamtkunswerk, in which the combination of the two formed the total artwork. He joked that his early humorous style—cartoonish and splattery, with an emphasis on narrative—was “on an overlooked axis connecting Jackson Pollock and Norman Rockwell.” But after studying the color theory of Albert Munsell and discovering the joyous geometries of the artist Stuart Davis, his work took a sharp turn. Still working on larger canvases, he began planning each work in detail, defining the exact composition of its figures and determining its color scheme in advance. The execution of the paintings took longer and longer, one even clocking in at 160 hours. Borrowing a technique from 20th century classical music—and a technique perhaps never before applied to visual art—he produced a series of fractalized paintings that, at times, have a dizzying paint-by-numbers quality.

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