The Smoke and Bone Altars.
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A tribute to the martyrs of the Haymarket Riot, who act as the center figures, each of the martyrs is represented in the eight altars, numbered, but not ordered, by the amount of eye pupils in each painting. They bear witness to the attacks on the population and as memory keepers. It is no coincidence that each year they are remembered less and less as the date on which they fought to give us basic labor rights is getting overshadowed by a marketing plots distracting you by a science fiction film.

Each altar is dedicated to a particular date in the history of civil rights in Chicago, except for the first, which includes an allegory to the Tlatelolco massacre in México City, during which the government ordered a military hit on unarmed students gathered at a meeting even after months of attacks and forced disappearances. These dates are marked by a particular constellation, which are used for their symbolism of guidance and permanence.

A recurrent topic throughout the pieces is the means by which the people in power ensure their positions are boundless. From the calculated assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, the blatant murder and disappearances of thousands of students and activists by military and police forces around the world, extolling their brutality against protesters and freedom fighters, disguising it as peace keeping, promoting it as a societal need while at the same time allowing corporate greed to take over individual enterprise, creativity, and culture.

The torch of freedom will always light the path, either with a blazing fire or a dim glare. It will be visible within the hearts of those who have been victims of oppression, either by state, church, or society.

They say that the strength of our chain is determined by the strength of our weakest link, but with many chains together our strength and endurance will multiply beyond any calculation. The people in Chicago and the world have been submitted to a constant and systematic division though class, creed, culture, gender, and wealth, making us believe we simply cannot get along and share commonalities unless it is their own approved, bland, and subjugated culture, religious adherence and controlled society standards. We may not be links in the same chain, but all of our chains together can protect what is ours. Our freedom, our culture, our bodies.

The systematic use of media and marketing to divide and enslave has reached a point in which all become an enemy in the rat race for the unattainable luxuries, a life of comfort devoid of passion, monetization of health, privatization of the agriculture, elimination of intellectual and educational access. They want you dumb, quiet, and distracted. The use of television and corporate media to dictate the approved behavioral patterns are not even for the sake of progress, but rather the profit from advertising revenue for each step forward, we take two backwards. They attack drugs, yet every other commercial break contains advertisements for the latest antidepressant. They shame your eating habits, yet every sport is sponsored by a sugar ridden, chemically designed beverage and fast food chain. In this corporatocracy, the only way we vote and shall be considered is with our wallets. Corporate interest and the political agenda that serves the few are not ubiquitous to third world countries or communist dictatorships but rather breed amongst those who defend parasitic capitalist ventures, those who look to profit from other people’s work, sweat and blood. These same corporations have stolen and polluted our water, usurped and poisoned the farmlands, and stolen the livelihood of millions of families. Little by little they are taking away one of the activities that gave us humanity.

We have been submitted to a rhetoric of corporations as entities with not just the power to grant the benefit of “working for them” but a beneficial to our own development and communities. While this is far from the truth, the elimination of small enterprise has killed the economy of more than just small towns. Now taking over the world wide economy, enslaving the workers under unfair terms, they have put a price on our life. Selling items with mark ups of over one thousand

percent of the manufacturing cost and paying pennies to the workers in the pursuit of maximum profit. It is our time, our life. Some of us will work from dusk till dawn and reap very little with no other viable option in sight. We see senior workers having to to adhere to these predatory policies, unprotected still, to live and die under their blade without any time for themselves to develop as loving, caring, creative human beings. How long are we going to wait to say no? How far are we going to let them come into our lives and decide for us what is good and what is not? Throughout history we should have learned there is no good king, no blessed priest and no mercyful banker. What more proof of their influence on the so called public representatives and their corrupted policies do we need? When are we going to stop using the degradating labels they impose on us and our cultures? What else needs to happen for all of us to say, ‘Enough!’?

Each of our lives is more important than any yearly profit of any corporation or deceiving non­profit that still allocates most of their donations and earnings to pay for a CEO and a public relations department. Think very wisely as to where you put your money for it is not just money, it is someone else’s time. It is someone that could not go home to their family for a holiday. It is someone that could not be there for an ill loved one.Say no to the lack of solidarity and compassion, to the division created by religion, class and race, stop the terminologies used by a system who constantly finds ways to justify its methods with a banner of justice and equality, claiming that the blood spilt has not been in vain, yet our education systems continue the downward spiral towards abject indoctrination of the population, forcing them to believe that individual struggle comes first. It is within our power to get involved in any community effort, any creative endeavor that is not affiliated with the corporations, to learn by ourselves and for ourselves. To break the dogmatic boundaries of behavioral patterns established by advertising. To stop buying into their hate not only against others, but against ourselves.


“Vox Populi, Vox Igni”


-Arturo Fresán