Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Now Kick It... Into Shape... Shape It Up... Get it straight...


Interesting show title and exhibition currently at The Kitchen.

I chose the image at right by artist Adam Helms to illustrate a point.

Revolutionaries or guerillas in 2007 might seem to be an era of the past (at least in the Western World.)

Our current living environment is more likely to have groups form based on commonalities of apathy or disaffection-- think MySpace (millions of members and counting), the mass popularity of "American Idol," or middle America's belief in fiction-as-fact through "The Da Vinci Code."

But what I liked the most about this work was how it drew me in gradually.

From afar it seemed harmless enough... then I got closer.

The interesting thing about revolutions is how slowly (or rapidly) they can develop.

Most rapid-moving revolutions throughout history have been led by charismatic, diabolical masterminds of public persona.

The more slow to form always seem to have "fighters in the jungle," or those cloaked in secrecy.

Think of the Phillippines' current Abu Sayyaf rebellion (see image of Martin and Gracia Burnham at left, missionaries abducted in 2001 while celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary at Dos Palmas Resort.)
The masks give this image an even greater sense of urgency; one that was followed with great tragedy-- the death of Martin in a gun battle with the Phillippine army to rescue him and his wife.

Helms' image confronts our fears of what lies beneath the masks.

Empty and hollow eyes; soulless bodies with minds bent on one thing-- united by the achievement of their common goal of revolution.

What this image says to me more than anything else-- we are currently emrboiled in a society neck-deep in guerilla warfare; a war for our hearts and minds, using modern day media manipulation.

Dave McKenzie directly addresses this manipulation with his work.

After all, this is not only a battle fought with weaponry, but also a war for our hearts and minds.

This piece attracts our attention not through a cluttered newsstand with images of Britney and Tom and Katie and Anna and Justin and Tori and Brooke and Brad and Angelina and Jen and... (you get the drift)... but instead a single issue of "Yesterday's Newspaper" laid out on a wooden platform.

For me, this image provokes massive feelings of guilt: "Of course this is IT! I get it. Even HE gets it. This is how we, together, could change things."

But upon exiting The Kitchen, you will face once again the frailty of mankind-- most of us possess an attention span not unlike that of a 3-year-old with its Easter basket; certainly myself included.

Isolation is a technique that is quite effective in terms of focusing the mind.

McKenzie truly makes a fantastic attempt at capturing just a tiny piece of what we have to offer emotionally as well as intellectually and guides our eye to the floor in what may well be the easiest to configure, yet strongest piece of the exhibit.

Next up, a bit more flash for your buck.

The modern comic book-- "Infinite Crisis" series DC Comics, to be exact.

Making a logo leap freshly off the page of a multi-issue 2005 edition into installation readymade, Gardar Eide Einarsson makes a literal translation of our current state.

If there is no one who will stand up for what is right in this world, where do we find ourselves?

Oh, Superman, where are you now?

Once again, the issue at the center of this exhibit comes to the forefront: what direction are we going? What can get us "into shape?"

Have we truly yet hit the lowest of the low points-- the "breaking point"?

Perhaps a good swift kick to the pants might help-- including this great exhibit.

Part 2 to come tomorrow.

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