What do two Disney scenes have to do with Photoshoping missiles being fired? Or, for that matter, with a clearly computer-generated chair design and a white porcelain sculpture of a curiously bedecked man’s head? Ostensibly nothing, and I think that remains the case even after viewing Austrian artist Oliver Laric’s video Versions at the Hirschhorn Museum in Washington D. C. several times. The linking thread in the chain of images in Versions is the accompanying female voice. In doing so, the artist makes the point that the linking thread of many contemporary cultural products in the remix culture of today are works of just such an amalgamated sourcing.
With the utmost professionalism and authority, the voice expounds on the philosophy of images, image-making today, and copies through such examples. Perhaps surprisingly, such a theoretical topic does not become boring, and if heavy-handed, pointedly so. Just as the images are created and remixed to tell this story, the words are also largely a remix. Taking from both high and low culture, Laric quotes from Borges but also James Brown, thus mimicking the same questions of authenticity and originality that he is tackling.
The post about this show, which closed July 26, has been sitting in my drafts folder, but for lack of time rather than lack of things to say. The works of China Marks, Rick Newton, and Sally Curcio, interesting in their own right, were placed in thoughtful, playful dialogue with each other in the show A Redefined Existence at the J. Cacciola Gallery in Chelsea.
Rick Newton’s clean-lined paintings register as normal at first, only to be belied with a touch of the surreal. The realistic rendering and precision of his painting style lends a cold edge to the combination of rationality represented by technological advanced vehicles and weapons and the irrationality of the blank background and details like the reaching claw in the painting above.
Sally Curcio creates miniature worlds in the series on view. Her clean edges come from the re-purposing of plastic products to create cheerful, sweet worlds encased in glass bubbles. No less fantastical, and perhaps more accessible and inviting to the touch, are the sewn panels by China Marks. Marks creates scenes with characters and words that just stop just short of narrative.
Overlaid with embroidery and different fabrics, the fabric panels recall the set up of cartoon panels but also the history of the craft of sewing and embroidery samplers. I read many of them as having a dark, slightly uneasy quality, like in the dialogue below. But open-ended as they are, it up to the viewer whether such statements are unsettling or funny.
Over on Burnaway Magazine, there’s a new article up that I wrote about visiting folk artist Howard Finster’s former home and garden in Summerville, Georgia. The artist created an area full of folk art, religious text, and junk intermingled at every turn, and visiting is a fun daytrip from Atlanta or elsewhere in North Georgia. Seeing the artist’s work here, as opposed to a museum, clarifies where the artist was coming from in both a literal and figurative sense, and strengthened my appreciation of his work. I’ve included more pictures here, and just follow the link to read the article “Howard Finster’s Paradise Garden Continues to Thrive” on Burnaway.
I visited Paradise Gardens in June. Now that I’ve gotten back from a long vacation (without a computer–possibly not the best decision I’ve ever made), I hope to catch up and posts of some of the things I’ve seen soon.