“It’s Not Nine One One”
Where “Homeland Security” dealt with the physical/legal boundries of the United States, “It’s Not Nine One One” deals with more psychological, introspective, and political ideas. It is a study of the idealogical state of our self proclaimed democracy. In our time we have seen this democracy transformed by the internet, reality TV, confrontational politics, radical extremist groups, and talk radio. Every group is screaming their agenda front and center. Things like working together for the greater good, compassion, compromise, empathy, and civil debate are out of the question. So I used the image of the country as viewed with the poles reversed, south up, north down.
Viewing “It’s Not Nine One One” is like seeing the United States from outer space. It is like viewing it in a dream when you have left your body and are floating above the Earth. Viewed from space there is no up or down, no left or right (political pun intended). Viewed from this position the compassionate heart of America becomes a testicle sack where things are ruled by testastrone, hubris, and macho energy.
Let me make this perfectly clear. This concept, this shape we call the United States was made by aliens, immigrants, and the descendants of these immigrants. It was made by designating certain natural features of the landscape, like the shorelines and certain rivers as borders. But at other points, it is merely a line imagined and laid across the landscape. It is a cartesian construct, an abstraction, laid between the southwestern states and Mexico, and the northwestern states and Canada. “It’s Not Nine One One”
Ken Little 2010
“Tooter” a public commission for the Laramie County Community College, Ken Little, 2009; The concept of the sculpture will be an allegory where animals play the part of students and a professor. The “professor” will be an adolescent bear standing upright on a foundation or stack of books, as if lecturing or reaching for something. The “students” around him will be three jackrabbits: one looking at an open book, one sniffing a closed book, and one ignoring it all. The title would be a word play on tutor or tutoring someone. (The bear and one of the jackrabbits I would be using are already fabricated and pictured here.) You will also notice that my “animals” are made from cast bronze shoes, belts, gloves, extension cords, and other human items. This gives them a surreal reference to what is the natural world of wild animals and a connection to the civilized world where we use these animals as our food, their skins as our clothing, and so forth.
"Homeland Security" painted picket fence; 32"H x 50'W x 30'D; 2010, installed in Hemisfair Park, San Antonio, Texas sponsored by Artpace SanAntonio, and Public Art for San Antonio The outline image of the border of the continental United States is an American icon. It is a mixture of natural geological elements, like rivers and coastlines, combined with a cartesian construction of imagined lines strung across the landscape to separate political, ethnic, and idealogical groups. It is the legal demarcation of our boundries creating citizens, aliens, and immigrants (legal and illegal). Since September 11, 2001 we have been obsessed as a country with this imagined shell. We are in the process of trying to literally build this shell as an impenetrable fence, particularly along the US/Mexican Border. I decided to manifest this obsession by building the first version of “Homeland Security” in Griffner, Austria where I was invited for an outdoor exhibition in 2006. It is a simple garden fence, with no gates, that is meant to keep unwanted pests or aliens out of the garden. “Homeland Security” is a symbol of the American dream and the American nightmare. The second version of “Homeland Security” was commissioned by the Austin Art In Public Places Program as part of the Texas Biennial in 2008. That version has been repaired and reinstalled for the next four months at HemisFair Park here in San Antonio. It is visible from the street level at the intersection of South Alamo and Durango streets. It is also visible from the HemisFair Tower some 750 feet in the air above San Antonio. As I said, It is the American dream and the American nightmare. It is what we live with everyday.
The "Deinstallation of Homeland Security" at Hemisfair Park in San Antonio, Texas; September 19, 2010. This was a performance where participants cut the fence in pieces and took it away. See 2010s Performance.
"Lookout!" 2011; Cast Iron Masks,Steel frame, and LED lighting; 8' H x 16' W x 8' D; This was a temporary Public Installation of outdoor works curated by Dave Hickey, at Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois, during 2011. The Cast Iron masks that ere cast at the kohler Company in 1988 were mounted on a stylized cityscape and lit with LED lights. It was a very popular place to go and get your picture taken.