Yvette Rock

Yvette Rock

Detroit, Realtered
by Yvette Rock


Resident Evil: Retribution

At its heart, this street poster is a spiritual investigation of the Tamara Greene murder in Detroit (2003).  Tammy (Strawberry) Greene was an exotic dancer (yes, she worked the topless bars on 8 Mile) alleged to have performed at a dope-fueled party at the Detroit mayor's mansion in 2002. The story goes that Kwame Kilpatrick's wife attacked a woman (Greene) who was giving the then-mayor a lap dance. Greene was killed in a drive-by shooting on the west side of Detroit 3 months after the alleged party. Rumors swirled. The tenure of Kwame M. Kilpatrick, Mayor of Detroit from 2001 to late 2008 reads like a real-time Bible story – a cautionary tale about arrogance and entitlement that leads to ruin.

This poster, a multi-color stencil on newsprint, highjacks a “Resident Evil” movie poster to cast Tammy Greene as an archangel sent to condemn her killers. She wields the sword or righteousness and scales of justice.

It has appeared in various forms in Detroit as street art since 2010.This image, an angel of judgment, found its inspiration in a mix of Detroit history, popular culture and historical sources in literature. It was an unauthorized temporary placement on a construction barrier at the entrance of the Garden Theater on Woodward Ave. in Detroit (2010).

The quote (top) comes from the Bible, Luke 10:18 -- the words of Jesus, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven."  In Luke 10 Jesus sent 70 disciples out to prepare the way for his expanding ministry. He gave them power to cure the sick (trample on scorpions and snakes) as their commission to advance his Word of salvation. Satan's fall speaks of ultimate judgment, yet to come.

Further inspiration comes from French theorist Rene Girard in his book (See post below), “I See Satan Fall Like Lightning.” Girard’s explanations of how the Devil accomplishes his work in our world is vital reading for the spiritually minded. It helped me understand what was happening in Detroit during Kwame Kilpatrick’s administration as mayor of the city.


"It was a busy Palm Sunday on Second Ave. at the 2016 Nain Rouge parade in Detroit. I built an effigy head of the guv. Defiantly Snyder stood alone on Ryan Doyle's Carcroach art car defending his emergency management policy.  Amid jeers from the crowd he was blasted into submission for nonfeasance by the Make Art Work crew at Recycle Here!   -- Eno Laget


"The first marks of spiritual/physical training"

After a rich conversation about his life in Detroit over the last 10 years, after discussing his documentary on the Detroit Public School system in 2005, after reflections on 8 mile, on the realness of failure, about Flint's water, about bearing another's weight and the shame we feel when someone bears ours, after some words about gratitude and a brief discussion on satire, fellow wrestler Oren Goldenberg and the wrestler, wrestled in the attic for two rounds of about 1 minute. The conclusion: Endurance is important.


Take It All

A movement piece by Shua Group's Joshua and Malik.

The score:  Support the other's complete body weight at all times to the best of your ability. 

Yes, it's certain hard to see the enemy, and looking for someone or something to blame for all of the misery that plagues "8 mile" is perhaps presumptuous and slippery.  But, one thought, I don't think you ever intended to find a log in that sense.  Your project proposal was to use an actual wrestling match as metaphor symbolism of the complex and bottomless trouble that plague both sides.   The struggle against spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places.  I understand that the "product" of the project is changing - but just wanted to allow you consider that you didn't intend to be a judger but a conduit, an advocate.  

In this process you are identifying your own struggle as the content.  8 mile is yours.   That's much braver work in a way, but its all connected.  

I guess the Essential struggle IS mostly inside of each of us, and each person on both sides of eight mile, as you have felt in trenches of Detroit winter:   "how can i be a witness to devils that swirl between and among people, when Sarah is miserable and I'm cold as ice…"

But there's a devil that exists between and among us, a collective madness, mostly driven by compounding fears. The sum of our madness is greater than that which lurks inside each of us.  Thus war and systemic racism.   In a sense there are only victims when these forces prevail - it seems everyone is hurting on both sides.   Sometimes those victims seem particularly persecuted by someone not only some "thing".  Take the children in Flint.   But what do we do about that?   That's not specifically question of this work.  Or is it?

We also tend not to take note of moments when all the struggle inside and between all of us suddenly melts.   Like it did last Sunday, on Easter.   Sitting on the steps behind GM, Laura and I watched people walking along the riverfront: Arab American families doing photo shoots, white little girls dressed as Easter eggs, Russian or polish moms gabbing, black families dressed in bright silky shirts and a teenage black couple who invited us to take a photo with them. And I, in my fear, didn't take this golden opportunity to sit on a bench with complete strangers and take a selfie for 4!.  I saw absolutely no misery, nor did i sense it: it took only sunshine and open public space to win.


Yvette Rock

Yvette Rock

The Plague of Racism by Yvette Rock


Dear Wrestler: How do you define your soul?

"When Two Worlds Collide"  a wrestling painting by Soul-Trainer, Yvette Rock


Body Training Exercise by Joshua Rock


Future Wrestler

Future Wrestler

I was wondering why Temple kept asking me for a jump rope when we got home! He's so proud of himself for learning how.


On Mimetic Theory and the Act of Scapegoating

"The Unlikely Christianity of Rene Girard" by Pascal-Emmanuely Gobry. The Week, Nov. 10th 2015

Too few people know about René Girard, who passed away on Nov. 4 at 91. He was undoubtedly one of the most important men of the 20th century.

A longtime professor in the U.S., Girard was perhaps destined to leave France, the country of his birth. He had not come up through the ranks of its factory for intellectuals, the tiny and elite École Normale Supérieure. He was of no trendy intellectual school of thought; he was no post-modernist or post-structuralist — until, that is, he ended up quite involuntarily hailed as the founder of one. And he was a Christian.

In the end, his country recognized him, giving him perhaps its highest honor for intellectuals of the humanities, a seat at the Académie Française.

Girard's work, summed up under the heading "mimetic theory," is like a flash of lightning on a dark summer night, suddenly illuminating everything in a strange new light. Girard's thought has had an influence in fields as diverse as literary criticism, history, anthropology, philosophy, theology, psychology, economics, and even Silicon Valley entrepreneurship.

Mimetic theory, which Girard first hit upon teaching French literature and reading the great novelists' psychological analysis of their characters, is the idea that our desires are imitative. In other words, most of the things we want, we want because others want them. Marketing, and really most of our consumer economy, is founded on this premise. The reason you want a Ferrari or an iPhone is because they're highly coveted items.

This is profound because most of us believe our desires to be individual and authentic. But instead, mimetic theory reveals how deep a hold society has on our imaginations and our longings. Most of our desires are really envy and jealousy deep down.

For any honest and thoughtful person, this realization should provide grist for long sessions of soul-searching. Already Girard would have made his mark on history.

But when Girard expanded his work on mimetic theory beyond literature and psychology, that's when the real fun began.

Imagine the theory on a grand scale. What are the social consequences if most people desire the same things? In many societies, especially primitive ones, the answer is conflict. And there arises mimetic desire's murderous twist.

When Girard trained his literary critic's eye on anthropology and religious myth, he found mimetic desire again: in the practice of scapegoating. Most civilizations and cultures have founding myths that revolve in some sense around the death of an outsider at the hands of the community, e.g. the death of one or several gods leading to the creation of the Universe.

In Girard's framework, mimetic desire and scapegoating are connected. Mimetic desire causes conflict. Because most people desire the same things, the conflict becomes endemic, and unless the conflict destroys society first, the society unleashes its violent urges on someone: a scapegoat. After the cathartic violence, the mimetic desire vanishes, and peace is suddenly restored, which, perversely, vindicates the scapegoating — if killing the scapegoat leads to peace, then the scapegoat must really have been the source of the conflict.

Girard finds this scapegoating dynamic at the heart of most myths. Oedipus, King of Thebes, had sex with his mother and killed his father; as a result of this sacrilege, the Greek gods visit a plague on Thebes. Once Oedipus tears out his eyes and leaves the city, the plague is lifted. Romulus and his brother Remus found the city of Rome; Remus breaks the law of the newly-founded city, so his brother kills him.

We find this same destructive dynamic at the heart of social life even today — perhaps especially on social media. And there is only one way to defeat it: expose it as a lie.

To Girard, there was only one religious text which did that: the Bible. Girard, who was an atheist until his work on mimetic theory and the Bible led him to see things differently, expected to see the same scapegoating dynamics at work in the Bible as he did in other sacred religious texts and myths. Instead he saw exactly the opposite: the Bible's stories deconstruct and denounce scapegoating.

The Biblical story of Joseph, for example, has Joseph falsely accused of trying to rape his Egyptian master's wife and put in prison. Egypt only avoids famine when Joseph is vindicated. The contrast with the story of Oedipus is striking: In the Oedipus story, Oedipus really did commit incest and patricide, and it was only by effectively killing him — maiming him and driving him into exile — that order could be restored. The Joseph story is the exact opposite: The Biblical narrative insists on Joseph's innocence and the land can only prosper once the truth is accepted.

Many Biblical stories revolve around this deconstruction and denunciation of scapegoating, but they culminate, Girard found, in the story of Jesus. After all, he is the ultimate scapegoat, condemned by all rightful authorities. But the Cross exposes scapegoating as a lie and thereby, if it is heeded, empties it of its power.

In an age when so many people proclaim the Bible and Christianity to be irrelevant to the 21st century, only a quick scan of the headlines will show how truly relevant this denunciation of scapegoating remains.

And how relevant is Girard's thought. For two thousands years after Christ, we still haven't gotten rid of mimetic desire, and we still haven't completely gotten rid of scapegoating.

Jesus had come, he said, and Girard used the line as the title of one of his books, to reveal "things hidden since the foundation of the world." We may still be wicked, but at least we're no longer blind. And in a small part, this is also thanks to René Girard.