Subject: captivity--bird cage
Genre: Sculpture, paintings, and installation art
Size: Width- 16 feet, Height- 22 feet
Captivity was designed as installation art that would change daily for 19 days. I planned to stun the crowds with the most controversial subjects that certain people preach and practice in the world today. The show was intended to highlight various cultures and how they are captive to certain ideas.
The focal point of the project was to be a Bird Cage, 16 feet in diameter and 25 feet tall. Every day the contents of the cage would change, and on any given day the viewer might experience live art because I would be performing my popular stunt-art. I wanted each person in the audience to ask him- or herself, “What holds you captive?”
Because some of the images would be controversial, I planned to take into consideration the feelings of the general public. Thus, on certain days the cage would be covered with curtains, and only people aged 18 and over could enter.
Day 1 Exhibit
Mob Justice (Hanging of Saddam Hussein)
This installation depicts the irony that the hanging of the tyrant Saddam Hussein was carried out on a military base called Camp Justice. Was this merely a revenge killing? Did this hanging resolve Iraq’s leadership problem? Was Saddam captive to the idea of dictatorship? George W. Bush said that he wished the execution “had gone on in a more dignified way.” After all, it was just mob justice.
Day 2 Exhibit
Chilled Monkey Brains
In this installation, we encounter the grotesque sight of chilled monkey brains. For some, the monkey is a beautiful creature worshiped for its intelligence and power, while for others, it is hunted and killed for the mere delicacy of its brain. The monkey brain has been eaten cooked or raw—even fresh from the skull. How would you like yours served?
Day 3 Exhibit
Rape of Oprah Winfrey
In this installation, we see the rape of an American legend. She revealed on her TV show that she was raped at an early age by family members. This is not a singular occurrence; children are often molested or raped by family members. What captivates these individuals to do such heinous acts?
Day 4 Exhibit
For many, religion is captivating. This installation shows a religious symbol that captivates its followers. Hindus view the lingam as a symbol of divine energy rather than a sexual symbol. Are they captive or is this idea captivating?
Day 5 Exhibit
The toilet by definition is not a pleasant place. This pornographic toilet represents, in the most extreme and thought-provoking way, our ideology of life and the paths we choose to justify right and wrong. While some consider sex dirty, fans of the Kama Sutra consider sex to be the fourth pillar of life.
Day 6 Exhibit
In many ancient and current cultures, killing innocent baby girls has been permissible due to the low economic value placed on females. In male-dominant societies, men bring money and power to families while girls are considered a burden. Female infanticide remains a major concern in China and India where families still practice this selective killing.
Day 7 Exhibit
My Son Is a Suicide Bomber
This installation art shows the disturbing image of a young child dressed in a suicide-bomber outfit. This one child represents the many who have had their childhood stolen by war and martyrdom. For some, allowing family members to be sacrificed for the sake of religion is a captivating idea. How captivating could this be for parents who participate in the brainwashing of their children?
Day 8 Exhibit
Criminals have found a place to hide, and it’s the church. This art piece may seem simple and self-explanatory, but it merely touches the surface of the situation. Meanwhile, the children must live with the memory of abuse for the rest of their lives. Just to be captivated by the Catholic priest.
Day 9 Exhibit
This installation shows the love affair between man and beast. The practice of sexual activity between humans and nonhumans is not outlawed in some countries. The phenomenon of sexual intercourse with animals is not new. Instances of this behavior have been found in the Bible, as well as in holy temples in India.
Day 10 Exhibit
This installation is a representation of unrestrained sexual pleasure between a group of men and women. Sexual pleasure holds them captive as they grow deeper into the ecstasy they are creating. To some, this is a captivating lifestyle; to others, it may be a fantasy that captivates their imagination.
Day 11 Exhibit
The mother of the new century is depicted in this installation as Octo-Mom 2.0. Her irresponsibility and fourteen kids have turned her fifteen minutes of fame into a new career in adult entertainment. What are your limits as a mother? Is there any limit to providing for your children?
Day 12 Exhibit
In this piece, Jesus, Gandhi, and Hitler are shown together to symbolize the existence of love. This installation represents how love and tolerance are not only for the good but also for the bad in the world. Does love keep you captive?
Day 13 Exhibit
Osama bin Laden
This installation shows the ironic end of Osama bin Laden’s attack on America. Formerly a hunter who lured the U.S. into a war against Jihadists, Bin Laden became the Most Wanted Terrorist in the world, which earned him an unpleasant end and resting spot. Or is he still out there?
Day 14 Exhibit
Child pregnancy is a tragic and painful situation that has become, sad to say, more and more common in the lives of our children. This piece of art embodies the struggles and captivating horrors of this shame, but for some, it is a beautiful miracle of life—?
Day 15 Exhibit
Arabic and Altaic cultures are often captive to the idea of child marriage. Yemeni law allows girls of any age to wed. Laws in Saudi Arabia define the minimum age as eight years old. This brings to mind David Wood’s blog in which he writes the following: “Now we must picture that same man in a room with an innocent little girl. He takes away her doll, climbs on top of her, and puts his penis inside her. She doesn’t know what is happening because she is too young to know much about sex. Frightened and confused, she cries because of the pain and bleeds on her bed, but she tries to remain quiet out of respect for her new husband, who, in return, endangers her life.”
If this scenario had played out in America in this day and age, the husband would be considered a pedophile. If these children had any freedom, would they be captive or be captivated by marriage? And the biggest question of all is this: What captivates parents to marry off their children to pedophiles?
Day 16 Exhibit
Power: Iran vs. America
The world is captive to the fact that America is a powerful nation. This very idea is presented in the installation. President Obama holding a bomb represents that very captive idea of power.
Day 17 Exhibit
Temple of Kama Sutra
When you are captive to sex and pleasure, it’s hard to ignore the world’s most famous sex book—the Kama Sutra. If you find this captive ideology on the walls of Indian temples, don’t be surprised if you read that sex and nudity are purity.
Day 18 Exhibit
This supper has been eaten by many. Bill Clinton had it, Newt Gingrich had it, and Jerry Sandusky had it up to his neck. These men, presented in this painting, risked everything to fulfill their captive sexual desires.
Day 19 Exhibit
To some, it is more captivating to accept the cruel customs of society than to protect their loved ones. It is captivating for these people to kill a family member in the name of honor, and many societies permit or even demand honor killing. Those who step outside the norms of Muslim society can be looked upon as bringing shame to the family. But how can one justify family honor being more important than the life of a loved one? How can parents, who work so hard to raise their children and build their future, take away that future simply because the child has asked for basic freedoms—to marry the person they love, choose the religion they like, have sex before marriage, or have a relationship with a non-Muslim man. These choices have been captivating for some, as it is natural to want freedom, but for others, such choices are shameful acts that deserve death. Which side of the honor pole captivates you?
What was the Controversy?
What happened to this educational show that brought the ideas, ideologies, and practices of different cultures to Grand Rapids, Michigan? This show turned out to be the prime example of captivity. This show was shut down by the rich Gilmore and powerful Devos groups. The ArtPrize slogan “everything goes” was fake, and the ArtPrize organizers were in agreement with the venue owner—Greg Gilmore—who took down the show and threw my art in the trash. Controversy went out of control when the media interviewed me and Greg Gilmore, back and forth, to fuel the debate. I thank all my supporters who stood by my side.
The rich and powerful had the media in their pocket and the money to buy it all. I felt defeated, but I still wanted to fight back, so I burnt all my art in protest. I did so to be at spiritual peace with myself, or perhaps I was captive to finding closure to six months of hard work and the investment of $100,000 to put up a show that never took place.
Pictures of the first day installation:
Pictures of the protest for freedom of expression:
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