Saturday, January 27, 2007

Psychological Operations and Art

This was first written as my ARTIST STATEMENT, titled Artists Statement and Manifesto, by Marijo Zilstra.

It was a kind of therapeutic thing to do, writing about myself some 25 years ago, attempting to remember who I once was, and who I am now. So, apologies for mentioning, Kim did this and Kim did that over and over, repetitive.

Also, it's intentions were to write about art using the language that I use when writing about US-foreign-policy, rather than the language of the art-world. Seeking new ways of evaluating art.

Hope you enjoy the ideas being tossed about ...

P.S. painting by Jackson Pollock (just one of the many "great artists" of the 20th century)

Marijo Zilstra – Artist History and Manifesto
December 10, 2006
By Kim Alphandary


Marijo Browning was once a contributing Artist to the L.A. Art-Scene during the 1980's.  Her art evolved out of Minimalism, Installation Art and Conceptual Art.  At this time, most Artists believed that painting was a dead art form.  Marijo chose to continue painting because she believed that there were indeed very real possibilities for Artists to create something "new" using the antiquated art form of painting.  At this point it must be stated that the first and foremost important rule for the modern Artist was to create something that was new and original, something never seen before.  Marijo chose to paint following the minimalist tradition, which was a method of painting that examined painting as an object, a study of art itself using mostly geometric images.  Marijo modified this style of painting by replacing the square, lines or rectangle with recognizable two-dimensional images -- Minimalism was reversed, the discussion moved toward ideas outside of Art.  Another way of explaining this would be to say that Marijo's paintings were idea oriented.  Each and every painting Marijo made was totally and entirely different from the other, not even close to some kind of a serial painting project that was also popular at the time.  Marijo's paintings analyzed indigenous art, modern art, and vaguely talked about the world of images and their meaning or converted meanings in our lives, creating a kind of modern political-lite type art.


Marijo eventually stopped all art activity because she rejected the code of behavior for up-and-coming modern-Artists at that time.  The standards that were pushed upon the Artist in the 80's were an unintended contribution to the continual suppression of the Artist in our society.   The Artist was to act out the faulty myth of Artist-as-bohemian -- the once groovy European streets of Paris decades before transplanted to the very non-European streets of L.A.  Young, very poor Artists were supposed to live "creative" lives in the most wretched enclaves of Los Angeles; living in fear for their lives because of the ghetto they inhabited, or cohabiting downtown streets with the many thousands of desperate homeless people.  There were no bars and cafes where people gathered to discuss art and philosophy, in its stead was: how you dressed, art openings and rabid competition.  Shabby living conditions and friend shattering competitiveness were the least sinister aspects of the absurd LA-Artists existence. The fact is that Artists, while living in squalor, were expected to produce a form of art that did not remotely address anything about their daily lives: injustice, crime, hate, poverty or even love for that matter.  The art was to be about itself, it's own isolationist history -- art as a so-called-sophisticated artifact.


Marijo, with limited skills and knowledge of the world at that time of her life, sought to remedy her confusion about that environment by falling back on a habit that she'd picked up at a very young age -- traveling the world.  After searching for many years, Kim found herself!  She became a radio and print journalist, and activist.


After five years of working as an activist/journalist, she returned to painting when she was living in Spain, 2003 to 2004.  The return to painting occurred accidentally.  Journalistic pursuits in the small town she resided in were non-existent.  The moment Marijo decided to paint again occurred when she noticed that the Spanish held an unusually high regard for painting.  This time around Marijo decided to paint how a journalist would -- she chose to cover the Iraq War.  So that her Art could reach a larger audience, she decided to adopt a more realistic style of painting.  And since Mexican Art and Culture had long influenced her, she also chose to re-create existing religious iconography into a format that would illustrate the stories she was covering.  Marijo had a show at the Casa de Cultura in Ronda, Malaga, Spain.  The show was extremely anti-Iraq-war, and illustrated some of the most gruesome aspects of the US occupation of Iraq.  The poor innocent Spanish people, who were the first nation to pull their troops out of the "coalition of the willing", and in fact are extremely anti-American, were shocked; many cried after viewing the onslaught of images that she had to share with them.  Marijo has since returned to the states and been given another opportunity to have an exhibition, she is painting again.  It aint a pretty picture I can tell you that.  This time she is attempting to address a large range of politically volatile topics, with a definite focus on the dark side.  She needs time! And more Time to really pay this very worthy endeavor its due.


To add further analysis to society's oppression of the Artist, here is a list of specific tasks that western Artists dutifully execute:  Artists aspire to the American Dream, Artists lead the advance in the process of gentrification, Artists create art for the ultra-wealthy and, Artists remain ignorant and undereducated.

1)  The American Dream: We have people with creative inclinations fighting for the one-in-a-million "famous Artist" spot, just like the white rapper, Eminem, or any number of newly-rich famous people that then turn their backs on their past and flee straight into assuming their new role as a wealthy, don't give a damn about your fellow man type person.  Now that they are on the other side of the fence -- and for once in their lives could actually effect positive change by contributing to the very community that birthed them -- they instead embrace the task of developing a new skill-set: super-calabunga-consumerism.

2)  Leading Gentrificationers:  As far as the oppression of Artists is concerned, this is a great training ground.  This is where these once sensitive souls gain the necessary desensitization to become colonialists.  Where Artists learn how to exist in a community where they do not belong, nor have connections with, nor feel any responsibility toward that radically unjust reality.  This type of conditioning produces in the Artist a complete inability to see the oppressed human beings around them, neighbors are rendered totally invisible.   This desensitization prepares the Artist to be able to participate in the brutal competitiveness of the art-world -- no second thoughts about stabbing friend or foe in the back.

3)  Art for the Ultra-Wealthy: The purpose, especially of modern Artists, is to please the wealthy, or another term would be the "owning-class" who are conditioned from a very young age to become uncaring, insensitive, and isolated in order for them to successfully perpetuate their class as rulers -- so that they can without batting an eye, practice all kinds of nasty forms of oppression.  Back to the Artist, once the Artist joins the gentrificationers and is trained to identify with his benefactor, he is a much more pleasant and compliant servant.  And more importantly, the dislocated Artist has long forgotten any kind of solidarity he felt toward his old friends and therefore will work to repress any attacks against his patrons and their station in society.  This brings an image to mind; the Mau-Mau Rebellion in Kenya where a large number of African servants rose up and killed their beloved white "masters". [1]

4)  Ignorant and Undereducated: Artists attend Institutions of Higher Education.  Our universities are filled with bad Artists that are extremely good at political-maneuvering.  And of course, since these professors love their jobs, their privilege, and have a good understanding of just exactly how scarce cushy teaching jobs are -- professors support the status quo.  Artists are cranked out, supposedly creating something "new" and in all actuality are creating the same ole' shit all the other students are creating -- big, big paintings, sloppy paint, and about, hum, it's kind of hard to figure out what the hell these paintings are about.  They've been taught nothing about anything except for the, I'll admit intellectually challenging, History of Art--for-arts-sake.   Art about anything else is not studied.  This is another guarantee that Artists will remain easily oppressible.

By following these four tenets of behavior, Artists have become self-neutralizing. Once upon a time, the Artist was an extreme threat to society.  This is because they could seriously destabilize existing power structures with their skills: acting, writing, painting, and philosophizing.  The Artist was once what is now termed, a Psychological Operations Warrior.  A British military analyst, J. F. C. Fuller in 1920 predicted that the traditional means of warfare might someday become,

“. . . replaced by a purely psychological warfare, wherein weapons are not used or battlefields sought. . . the corruption of the human reason, the dimming of the human intellect, and the disintegration of the moral and spiritual life of one nation by the influence of the will of another is accomplished.” [2]

In the case of this country, perhaps this has already come to pass.  Psychological Operations have been directed toward us more than they have been toward any other peoples.  Virtually all media in this country has been infiltrated by various governmental agencies.  Speaking only in terms of the psychological-battlefield, not including any of the other catastrophes, i.e. preemptive war, the removal of habeas corpus and the sanctioning of torture.  Looking at this small section of society that falls under the category of Artist, the self-neutralized Artist, coupled with advances in Psychological Operations – we have already lost the war, a battle that should have been fought by us, the Artists, but was never waged.


Slap me in the face, wake me up! 


1.  The "Mau Mau Rebellion" of 1952 to 1959 was in fact a struggle for independence.  The British used psychological warfare to depict the Mau Mau as murderous mobs that killed their white masters.  During this eight-year time period the Mau Mau killed only 32 white civilians, while killing 2,000 African civilians.  The British killed 11,000 insurgents; recent research indicates that up to 100,000 Kenyans died, many through torture, starvation and neglect in the British prison camps.  Mau Mau veterans to sue Britain over torture and illegal killings in Kenya, The Guardian Unlimited, by Chris McGreal.   06 October 2006. Url:,,1888754,00.html

2.  The Art and Science of Psychological Operations: Case Studies of Military Application, Volume One, US Department of the Army, by William E. Daugherty, April 1976.  Url:
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