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In the Frame for February 2013: O.S. Odin’s ‘The Ku Klux Klan’

This month we have chosen to highlight O.S. Odin’s The Ku Klux Klan, a disturbing portrayal of the moments leading up to the lynching of a naked African American at the hands of a hooded gang. The horror of this scene of lethal violence is intensified by the casual, pop-art style which is employed to render it. In this respect Odin’s work is reminiscent of that of Kimberley, to which we drew attention on this thread some eighteen months ago. At that time we observed that misogyny proceeds from, and collapses back into, misanthropy. Here we are prompted to say the same of racism.

By painting the hands (and feet) of every member of the frenzied mob blood-red, Odin leaves us in no doubt concerning their shared responsibility for the murder of the defenceless man within their midst. A woman sits to the left, pointing accusingly at the central, hapless figure. She is white-skinned and clothed in white, yet she is not hooded, and her clothing seems to have been disturbed. Her left hand grasps the captive’s leg, while her right points directly at his phallus: the accusation appears to be one of rape. Though she does not have a hand on the rope which is tied around the victim’s neck, her hands and her feet are drenched in as much blood as those of the gang around her. It is tempting to see this woman playing a role like that of Mayella Ewell in a reprise of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Yet no courtroom drama - not even the drama of a kangaroo court - features in this scenario. Odin’s vision is one in which no possible recourse is apparent against brazen injustice - unless the clear-sighted refusal to avert one’s gaze from the reality of such injustice is itself the first necessary step towards redress.