A new coterie of artists have a razor wit, an eye for popular culture (historical, current, and a thread between eras) and a point of view that is both sophisticated and strangely democratic. The following artists communicate through technology as well as, or in spite of, the rarified world of the stark white gallery spaces of the elite.
Troy Gua: Le Petit Prince
The “Le Petit Prince” project is based on one original doll and his “adventures” through originally hand crafted costumes, props, and settings photographed by the artist. It was a deeply personal project, as Gua explains “Le Petit Prince was made late in 2011 in an attempt to cleanse myself from what I had been making and felt was becoming cynical work. I wanted to make something that made me happy. ”
The full motion capture of Prince in his iconic purple glory spinning atop wax suggests the potential of a short film as well as being enjoyed as an animated gif, one that has been widely shared across social media such as tumblr. One second of this image creates an instant cultural reference: it links our shared memories of Purple Rain with the puppetry trend that appeals to nostalgic impulses and a pre CGI memory of “real effects” and artistry that has attained a special status in a technological era where realness is fleeting. This doll making speaks to an authentic badge of fandom as well as a casual appreciation of cuteness and satire that entered the modern social vocabulary through the films Team America: World Police, Being John Malkovich and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Furthermore, the hair alone is monumentally perfect.
Sally Edelstein uses collage “as a means of examining social fictions”. This artist applies a great curatorial eye to reference “banal images appropriated from vintage ads, periodicals, children’s school books, comic books, pulp fiction and all sorts of ephemera, dissociating the images from their original use to better re-evaluate its’ original message.”
The art form of collage and the ability to critique the mass media messages of the latter part of the 20th century make a perfect marriage. These works can be appreciated both viscerally and are aided through at least a few decades of women and gender studies/ media criticism courses in University curricula. As long as marketers and fashion tastemakers have been recycling trends, and as these cycles get shorter and more fragmented through culture, these old images and the artists who give them new life maintain an important place in pop culture. The appeal of this imagery is not only critical, humorous and ironic, but also straightforward: we wonder where all these old piles of magazines have gone and are interested to see them. The time wasting task of looking through piles of stuff is a lost art form for most of us. We miss it dearly.
Edelstein’s work doesn’t rely on obvious tropes about the experiences of women and families in exploring post war (50’s) America (and later eras). Rather, the artist digs deep and gives great thought to a spectrum of experiences. Think of the hours of work of clipping,cataloguing and organizing clips thematically, and the ensuing brainstorming and research that emerges. The subjects embrace and give pointed commentary about pressures (dieting /”containment”, the various ways women were expected to homemake (both “homemade” or “heat and serve” options were things marketed and sold, separating women from the core simplicity of accepted ideas of cooking that existed before the dominance of the wartime tin can) and the various complexities as well as freedoms of the working woman (birth control, the liberated women, and the nearly uncontrollable dirt that awaited the woman who dared to leave for the day). These loud and conflicting messages are layered with social and political movements of the day, a true collage of ideas and statements.
Surface by Aurelien Juner
The immediate thought: “why didn’t I think of that?!” is the hallmark of radical post-modern art. This might be the thought accompanying this piece, for example.
Deceptively simple. Who hasn’t defaced a fashion magazine, or wanted to, in a similar way? But the message becomes richer, deeper, and more original with every piece.
The subject being photographed is funny, common, seemingly accidental. The photography is exquisite, artful. The deconstruction/destruction/reconstruction of fashion magazine covers is wholly original, exciting, and evocative. A whole new form of reappropriation that constantly links back to the original production, to fashion and its messages. This art project must be viewed in its entirely to be appreciated as it goes deeper and to very unexpected places beneath the surfaces it touches.