Patriot Cavalry Archive
What I believe to be American, or withholding American pride, is something that is only for a select minority people. I found a specific market for sale online featuring my stereotype of patriotism. There are many pocket knives on used item sites with patriotic imagery, ranging from Elvis Presley to Southern Pride to Native American figures. I believe Americanism is more than the flag itself, or the false ideals of freedom and democracy—There is a specific culture and reverence of certain establishments that are undeniably American. Yet there is something to the fact that these cultural-political images are on small blades. Pocket knives are of course a common utility, but I think we all know someone with that slight masochistic tendency to collect and care for items such as this. Is there a danger to the imagery and object as one? I see something quite disturbing in the combination.
I have made a museum archive of images of knives like this being sold online, particularly on the app Letgo. Letgo is most interesting because the listings are typically in your area, like a dating app. If I was viewing on Craigslist or Ebay, there would be an overwhelming amount of options. Perhaps that could work if I expanded this project in the future, but with what was “in my area” there was plenty, almost too much to work with. My archive is displayed on an instagram account by the name @patriotcavalryarchive. Instagram is a very broad platform, but it also houses some more niche curating accounts like @cops_portrait.
When I was making my posts, I would give a very vague title followed by many hashtags for visibility purposes. My bio makes it clear, I believe, that I am simply a curator and I do not flaunt these images as a personal interest. My bio reads:
“A museum of found pocket dangers. A troubling collection of portable Americanism.”
The hashtags did have the ulterior intent to lure those of the “patriotic mindset.” I intended they would view the posts and look further into the account to discover the true purpose of the image’s posting.
I suspected the account to not gain much traction, in all honesty. For the most part, it was just that, only receiving about 5 likes on each post. Something happened in the course of this that I did not expect, however. I had made a post on one of the more abhorrent knives in my opinion. It was a long pocket knife with a black blade and a small serrated edge near the handle. The handle read “SOUTHERN PRIDE.” These two words flanked a confederate flag symbol. In the span of 24 hours, this post got 77 likes. The accounts liking this image were who you would expect to appreciate this type of patriotism. I viewed these accounts as the likes poured in, and I was angered. The posts of these accounts had content perpetuating anti-semetism, sexism, and racism. It gave me a glimpse of the sheer amount of people out there who still think this shit.
I was not happy or excited about the likes. I questioned whether my project was even close to accomplishing what it set out to do, or if I was more playing the role of perpetuating problematic ideals. There was a slight sense of inclusion I felt, when the likes were coming in though. Like I was accepted as an identity I am not. That made me sick.
I think if I were to improve this project, I would have better consolidated my intentions. I believed I started with a clear motive but after the intervention was underway, I did not feel I knew the correct way to proceed. I do think this project has greater potential. The concept of Patriotism is an interesting one and I hope to explore that more in the future.
The types of people I attracted: