Kienholz – The Ozymandias Parade
The Ozymandias Parade is Kienholz’s interpretation of “Ozymandias”. Originally a sonnet by Percy Bysshe Shelley, which foreshadows the unavoidable decline of all rulers and their empires, Kienholz’s version depicts the abuse of political power. There are vast amounts of details and figures each a symbol representing a piece of society and how political power leads to corruption and chaos. This grand assemblage of “discarded everyday objects and life size figures confronts political and social issues, ranging from racial discrimination, to oppression and violence.”
Given the immense amount of figures and objects displayed on the “parade float”, it is easy to get lost within the meaning of each single object, which further adds to the idea of chaos. The figures radiate “fear and propaganda, […]a chaotic world turned upside down.” The lights flickering on and off and flag, which can be changed, are representative of the country where the piece is presented; creating a relationship with the country as if it is a direct representation of the politics at the current time. The pieces each represent a part of the disorder that is leading to the demise of the government. The leader is riding backwards or rather upside down on his horse which is rebelling and kicking at him. Around his neck hangs a red phone used in times of emergency with the speaker and receiver part in his hand as if he is in the process of giving order, further emphasizing that this is a time of chaos and concern.
Behind him is the his general riding on top of a citizen whom seems the be on the verge of collapsing, overstrained by the government pressure. The general looms over his army which is positioned at his feet, miniscule in size compared to him. He becomes the entity ruling over them, the army as a whole seemingly insignificant compared to him. The general holds out a stick as if a carrot to motivate a...