Thank you to everyone who has supported my posting of the 45 degrees mail art.  The theme of this piece is US global domination. 

I did not think about the work as being a 'fan' as so many people have suggested. Yet, how wonderful it is to explore the many and varied ways people see objects.  I am grateful for all the inspiration and information my work and its controversy has generated. 

I thought I should share the story of this work with everyone as art for me is also about storytelling.

  On one side of the piece there is an igloo [Sun/fire and Ice] with two copies of the Statue of Liberty, one large and one small. These represent a couple of things, the inner and outer worlds and the many pitfalls of consciousness; anger, fears, domination and destruction. The bricks represent human invention and its fragility.   I am a committed environmentalist and the igloo suggests the melting of polar ice through climate change and the rampant destruction of  indigenous peoples, all attributable, in my view, to mass consumerism and largely due to industrialisation, a US global culture and domination. 

On the other side of the igloo is a collage I call 45 degrees. Taken together, the igloo and 45 degrees are the fire and ice in the cosmos and combined worldly universalism.   45 degrees has an acid green background, smoke clouds and skeletal flying fish.  All of this was inspired by the 45 degrees of heat and bushfires we in Australia have recently experienced.  The fish are out of water and struggling for life.  In hindsight I should probably have written some commentary on the work, but it was rather spontaneous and visual. 

The shapes used are common in my daily work as a psychotherapist.  I teach and practice mindfulness and I and my groups often draw mandalas as a form of mental focus and meditation.  These elements are a big part of my life and my environment.

I love being a member of IUOMA I feel it has helped me to explore new ideas in my own work as well as being open to other genres.  My small gallery in Gippsland now houses outsider art, asemic writing, visual poetry, pictographs and much more.  My role as an educator has been expanded and every day my life grows richer. I feel very blessed.  Thank you.

The work described is going to ArtEver in Portugal. I hope it brings as much pleasure there as it has to me in creating it.

Chris James.

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Comment by Dr Chris James on January 21, 2014 at 12:56am

Reply to lours:  I am not anti-American.  I Iove American art, writing, people, country and I confess some aspects of consumerism. 

 I am anti-imperialism and unfortunately there are dominant elements in the US who are dividing the nation and leading the charge on neo-colonialism and regional wars.  Australia is following close behind as is Britain and others.   This includes the struggle to acquire commodities, gas, oil and rare minerals, which all come at the cost of health and welfare as well as the environment. 

Don't get me wrong, I am not anti-globalisation.  I am an Internationalist who believes in workers rights and governments run by the people for the people.  The problem with globalisation at the moment is one of domination, largely by the west.  Thankfully, some other nations such as India and China are making their mark on the global economy, but this will not solve the problems of social disparity because the internal logic of late capitalism is oriented towards profit not people. 

As long as the markets are driven by profit [greed, not need]  the power remains concentrated with those who own the means of production.  This forces workers to sell their labour on the free market at market rates [or below].   When markets are manipulated and commodities are made scarce the price of produce goes up and wages come down.  The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.  These dualities are inter-related, one does not exist without the other in capitalism.

 Wars deplete the domestic resources, but make billions for big commodity investors.  Capitalism cannot survive without wars and they certainly drive the US economy, but America is not alone in this equation. 

  Of course my socialist political position is not always a welcome one and there have been inherent problems with socialism just as there are with capitalism.  This is because they both stemmed from the eighteenth century Enlightenment that gave its focus to 'Reason' without truly understanding what 'Reason' means or whether it is even possible. See [Immanuel Kant 1724-1804  and Jurgen Habermas 1982].    Thanks to the cognitive sciences we now know that people cannot be reasonable all of the time, consciousness is not static it fluctuates between the rational and irrational behaviours.  However, how many rational politicians do you know?   

In Britain the London School of Economics was commissioned by the BBC to do a survey of politician’s behaviour [2011?].  Using brain scans and other data the researchers found that conservatives were driven more by fear and anxieties than non-conservatives, they were more material, physical and put a greater emphasis on ownership [consumerism].   I believe consumerism has contributed greatly to the social problems the west is experiencing.

I believe as humans we need to change much of the historical imperialist narrative we have grown up with.  I also believe that art is one way of doing this.  I am very impressed by the Asemic writers and visual poets who have come to realise that in order to eliminate imperialism we have to change the language.

 Interestingly, a lot of people with mental differences [which most call illnesses] are often highly intelligent and concerned with these very same issues. 

What is also interesting is if the language centre[s] in the brain are damaged, however, miniscule the damage might be; their perceptions of life change.  We find this in people with high functioning autism and people with savant syndrome.

 I hope this explains my position which is, in effect, a deep and committed love of all people, creatures and the planet.


Comment by Katerina Nikoltsou (MomKat) on January 20, 2014 at 11:49pm

Thank you, Dr. Chris,  for sharing the story of "45 degrees".

As many have seen the "fan" format, it is not too far from expressing the encirclement of the environment and the ideas your work contains. Very inspiring!

Comment by Nancy Bell Scott on January 19, 2014 at 10:13pm

Thank you for this blog, Chris, and your work  "45 Degrees":  

Comment by Dr Chris James on January 19, 2014 at 10:04pm

Great examples. Love the fish.

Comment by Heleen de Vaan on January 19, 2014 at 9:56pm

Thank you for sharing the story of/behind '45 degrees'! Wow, in fact it is a very, very sad story - a horror for the fish and other animals - and sadly also a daily reality.

How good to see you using art as a way to increase consciousness.
As committed to nature, also I think environment and consumerism an important theme. So far I created a few pieces of mail art about this.
If you're interested you can see them here.
For my RWA project I received an interesting collage on consumerism from Cascadia Artpost, which I published here. And an awesome drawing and statement by Dewi, you can see and read it here.


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