Eeny Meeny

Primer

20 x 26″

signed archival pigment print

limited edition of 25

$225

 

Primer is a print series that highlights text from nursery rhymes within the text of contemporary news articles, revealing some of the themes and questions that these two disparate forms of storytelling have in common.

All of the text is contained within a background of hand-drawn lines, with an appearance reminiscent of redacted government documents.  All of the lines together make up the shape of an animal or object that also relates to the theme of the nursery rhyme.

Primer makes apparent the way that we “read into” everything that surrounds us according to the stories we’ve heard in the past.  As it visually peels back layers of meaning to reveal those stories, it also explores how often the old stories and the new stories are, at their heart, the same.

An example of how this works can be seen in this print, which uses a rhyme with a surprising pedigree.

Of medieval Scottish origin, the first line, “eeny meeny miny moe,” which seems like nonsense, is actually a corruption of the Latin phrase “inimicus animo” or “enemy of the spirit.” The text then referred to catching the “dark one,” or the devil, by the toe, so the key to understanding the rhyme is that the devil is often described as having cloven hooves. If you catch someone by the toe and he hollers, he has a real toe instead of a hoof, so you know he’s not the devil and you can let him go. Because over time the original word for “dark one” became an offensive racial slur, it was later replaced with alternatives such as the “tiger” used here.

Pairing this rhyme with a contemporary article on the debate over waterboarding points out that even today it’s difficult to determine who our enemies really are and whether we consider them less human than ourselves.