© 2013 LARISSA AHARONI

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I have always been concerned with the death penalty in general and I disagree with it fundamentally. When I was invited by
UTDallas for a three month stay in their international artist residency program, CentralTrak, I became very curios and began
thinking of different ideas I could explore while in Texas. Visiting Huntsville was on the top of my list. It just so happened that
Jesse Joe Hernandez was supposed to be executed just a few days after I arrived in Dallas, so I decided to drive to Huntsville
and experience first hand, the atmosphere that I had heard and read so much about. I visited the Texas prison museum,
the prison graveyard, and observed the anti-death penalty demonstration that was being held in front of the prison doors while
Hernandez was being executed. The day after the Hernandez execution I read his last statement "GO COWBOYS" in the news
and I decided spontaneously that this would be an appropriate title for the work I would create while in Texas because of it's
implicated cynicism regarding executions. My thoughts and feelings after experiencing Huntsville and after reading of his last
statement inspired me to create a hand-bound screen-printed artist book about executions and further to accompany
the book with a befitting environment/installation for the presentation.

For the book I chose only authentic pictures from the internet of various executions - public and non public . It was very
important to me that the images I chose would not only be related to ONE country, ONE political context, or ONE time
period -- the work is more about the horror of executions in general. In order to highlight executions as an all-encompassing
human subject matter I selected a wide variety of images, for example: an image of a resistance fighter in Austria hung
during the 2nd World War, a picture of a young black male lynched in Texas in the beginning of the last century, and even
a photograph of German concentration camp guards, hung in Poland in 1946.

For the show/presentation I built a box in the middle of the gallery eleven feet tall, and painted it black from the inside, where
the viewer is supposed to enter in order to experience a very private and intimate moment while looking at the book. The viewer
is inside "the cell" viewing various kinds of public and non public executions. Due to the unique style of binding I chose for the
book which restricts the way viewers are able to look at the photos (see attached images) and the restrictive characteristics
of the physical environment (via low-lighting and black interior walls) the viewer experiences a simulated participation in
these executions being forced to view them from the position of the voyeur.

The outside of the box is covered with wallpapers from floor to ceiling with blown up details from the book which represent
the "stadium" as a place where the execution becomes a public event. My intention was not only to highlight the "public"
aspect of these executions, but to pay homage to the irony in Hernandez's last statement by inferring a subtle football
reference/angle. For the third element of the installation I built "bar islands", made out of used wooden pallets. These
"bar islands" represent the moment when the tremendousness is transferred to the trivial.