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Tyler Shields

JC Vogt

The Black Lives Matter movement is an international organization that started in

the Summer of 2013 when the tragic murder of Trayvon Martin shocked the nation.

After Zimmerman’s acquittal, the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter began to spread to the

masses. Founded by three black community organizers, Patrisse Cullors, Opal Tometi

and Alicia Garza, the group set out to promote awareness of the inequality and still

existent oppression that was seeping through the African American community. Later in

August of 2014, the Black Lives Matter Movement organized its first in-person protest

after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson. The protest gained over 500 members

of the community to join in the non-violent demonstration, and the protest has since

become recognized national as a symbol of defiance.

The Black Lives Matter movement is heavily influenced by the African-American

Civil Rights Movement of the 50’s and 60’s, and currently referred to as “a new civil

rights movement” that’s defending against the oppression targeted towards African

American citizens. Using this idea for inspiration, Tyler Shields, an American born and

Los Angeles-dwelling photographer, created a series of photographs that shocked and

fueled and anger felt by recent injustices. Featured in his most recently series Historical

Fiction, these images with ties to the Black Lives Matter are unsettling yet potent. One

image features a nude black man in a forest-surrounded lake lynching a figure in a Ku

a popular and modern news source. Others. The Daily Beast. a shocking yet ironic twist on the atrocities that occurred in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. the Klansman lynching image appearing on its own. didn’t have much of a personal backing. I believe that the message could’ve been supported. soon followed by the rest in the collection.Klux Klan uniform. interviewed Shields about his motives behind the images. these photographs strike shockingly close to the reality of today as the lives of many Americans are still considered trivial due to a difference in skin pigmentation. and articles promoting the message of the images began to spread. and while Shields doesn’t directly refer to his art as a form of activism. regardless of how much support and backlash the image received. Another image in the series depicts two black businessmen stabbing a restrained white police officer with the United States flag. The reversed rolls as well as the introduction of police men speaks to the brutality and excessive violence these officers have demonstrated in recent events. The photographs were released separately. where he touches on how mixed the publics reactions were. Illustrating the disrespect shown towards the African American community in the middle of the 20th century. while shocking. as well as the general response to the photographs. however. The photos amassed over ten thousand likes on Instagram in just minutes. and the response was immediate. The series. a play on Stanley Gorman’s Soiling of Old Glory in which a white teenager is seen threatening to stab a black protestor with an American flag. seemingly shocked upon seeing such a harsh reminder of how horrific the country’s past has been. the content and timing of these images come to disagree. threatening the photographer for recreating such a controversial image. and while many . However. were offended. A large majority of the photograph’s viewers were left in awe.

and while applicable to the Black Lives Matters organization. the images were seen as satirical representations of America’s past. like if they were backed with a personal position.could assume Shield’s disgust with the recent events. there was no verbal recognition or condemnation to them. . they don’t fulfill the role of activist art as well as they could have. As a result.