Ebb, flow and coagulation

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The masses were flowing like molasses last Friday around 7 pm. It was the slow, glug, glug, glug of bodies in, bodies out of galleries until the blockage at Nexus where congealment occurred. (image is Albo Jeavons’ soft sculpture seen through the Nexus window.)

 

There at the travelling exhibit “Illegal Art: Freedom of Expression in the Corporate Age” — in what seemed like an alt-culture meet-and-greet — a youthful crowd came to rest in front of art that parodied capitalistic mainstays like Disney, big oil companies, Colonel Sanders and Harlequin romance novels.

Nexus is usually crowded on First Friday but this was extreme what with everybody’s backpacks and bicycle helmets doubling the congestion. I managed to see a fair amount of stuff though not a whole lot that seemed flagrantly, provocatively illegal.

Wall cards tell the stories of the works, many of which have been threatened by lawsuits according to the press material I read. Natalka Husar a Ukranian emigre artist actually had the best story. Husar paints on the covers of Harlequin romance paperbacks putting her life out there as the stuff of romantic fiction. The thickly painted, obviously NOT Harlequin books were objected to by the humorless corporate lawyers who demand that she not exhibit her work. The artist has hired a lawyer. (image above right is one of Husar’s Harlequin paintings.)

Aric Obrosey’s “Oily Doily” (see image, right) which used the icons from Shell, Amoco and Texaco to make an elegant acrylic on mylar design that looks like a doily was more typical of what was there — accomplished, even beautiful works that were subversive but…I couldn’t imagine a corporation going after any of it…although apparently some artists have been harrassed.

Andrew Jeffery Wright and Clare Rojas are included with images from their outstanding fashion-ad parodies from the “Manipulators” series. Jesse Goldstein, a Space 1026er whose wonderful Bush-the-Medieval-Crusader parodies stood out in the collaborative’s ICA show in 2002 here appears with Neighborhood Watch parodies that skewer the rush to surveillance post 911. The wall card says Goldstein’s been installing his signs around town. (see image, left)

And Albo Jeavons, he of the short-lived DisneyHole Project had a soft sculpture in the front window that poked fun at hydra-headed, government-military-industrial monster. Jeavons was also selling t-shirts that corrupted corporate logos like Banana Republic (Ban Republican) and Dolce and Gabbano (Dumb and Greedy). (for more information see his website)

I give Michael Durham’s Pez dispenser “Fallen Rapper Series” high marks for having fun with it. You can read Durham’s proposal to Pez that they make dispensers for Tupac and other fallen rappers. Pez’s letter is a short, polite note saying the project skewed a little old for its target audience of 3 to 6 year olds (who are they kidding…a lot of adults collect those dispensers). (image below left is mock-up of Durham’s Pez dispensers)

I keep thinking about Michael Moore’s “Bowling for Columbine” a movie that skewers corporations, the government and the culture much more effectively than anything I saw in this exhibit. Moore seems to have gotten away with exercising his rights to free speech. Did Moore have corporate trouble but just do it anyway? Is that the key to succeeding with an anti-corporate project?

If you’re stirred up about how first amendment freedoms are being eroded in the homeland, you might want to check out the creative rights conference sponsored by Media Tank that surrounds this exhibit. The conference includes lectures, film screenings and panels about copyright, public domain and fair use. Then again, you could just go do it.

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