IAN WIECZOREK - Visual Artist

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Series of 5 18x13cm paintings, oil on canvas

The subjects of this series of paintings are five African American and Hispanic men who were wrongly convicted of the assault and rape of a white female jogger in New York’s Central Park in 1989, a crime described in the media as ‘wilding’. The sensational case polarized the city along racial lines. The five minority teenagers, dubbed the ‘Central Park Five’, were coerced amid public uproar into making incriminating statements and convicted in 1990 (source material: Ray Sanchez, CNN), and each served between 6 and 11½ years in prison. (They were retrospectively acquitted, after a serial rapist and murderer confessed to the crime in 2002.) 17 years later the events and aftermath of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a policeman in Ferguson, Missouri have again highlighted the phenomenon of discrimination and racial stereotyping that continues to appear systemic in significant areas of Western society. Rather than focusing on the specifics of the original case, the work serves as an enduring reminder that little appears to have changed.
The work presents the 5 men as depicted in the ‘line-up’ composite photograph that was reprinted and broadcast throughout the media at the time of their indictment. The paintings are rendered as faithfully as possible to maintain the visual aesthetic, in the ‘traditional’ medium of oil on canvas, and presented as a series of 18 x13 cm images reminiscent of familiar everyday photographic format. Here, the subjects are intentionally unnamed, a signifier of a widespread phenomenon rather than a specific story.

- Ian Wieczorek 2015

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