Wednesday, July 11, 2007

when iron eyes speak with hands...








anyone who watched a lot of saturday morning cartoons in the early 70's surely must remember iron eyes cody as the indian who stares out at a trash covered landscape as a tear slowly falls down his cheek. even to a goofy jaded 8 year old, the image at the end of this commercial was pretty darn sad.

iron eyes was a cherokee who ended up on a lot of tv shows portraying... an american indian. the flea market was actually quite kind to me on sunday, so along with the chinese 78 i posted a few days ago, i also came across a 1970 book called indian talk by iron eyes. it takes w.p. clark's 1884 book indian sign language to a whole new level. the cut and paste graphic design is worthy of an early conceptual art photo piece, and the images of cody, his wife, and two sons, demonstrating such things as the hand signs for "bacon","telephone", and "chicken"(see above) are pretty wonderful.

here i've placed cody in a sequence of a kind of ian hamilton finlay poem, with the exception of the last image, which is the hand signal for "i am speaking"... which seems like it would be relatively unnecessary to know...

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Blogger zoe tati said...

WOW, a fleamarket trophy !!
hope you'll post more of them !
I agree, a delighted conceptual piece of art !!

5:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A great find, but ... Iron Eyes Cody was actually Italian, not real Cherokee!

4:18 PM  
Blogger "Bob" said...

re: 4:18

I had a strange experience once interviewing Robert "Tree" Cody, son of Iron Eyes. Tree Cody plays Native American wooden flute and was coming to perform in our area. We were talking via cell phone as he drove from one gig to another. I was not well prepared and innocently asked him about his upbringing, if he'd been raised on a reservation. He told me something along the lines of, "It's not all true what they say about my father, but anyway it doesn't matter since my brother and I were adopted." I had no idea what he was talking about and was about to ask when his phone went dead. I immediately Googled his father and came across a story in the the New Orleans Times-Picayune about how he'd tried to hide his Sicilian heritage. I was not sure how to broach the subject with his son, or if I should even bring it up, but it turned out to be a moot point: I could not reconnect with him after his phone went dead so we never continued the interview.

9:26 PM  
Blogger sroden said...

his sons are also pictured in the book. i had no idea he was italian, clearly his own bio written by himself was bent on creating myth. perhaps he converted to indianity...the italian connection is interesting in light of the hand signal book, because one of the other great hand signal books was done by bruno munari, which i also wrote about on airforms... and compared to the earlier indian hand signal book... i guess the fraud makes sense because i can't imagine there were traditional indian hand signs for some of the things in the book, like telephone... maybe someone will open an iron eyes pizzaria at some point..

8:05 AM  

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