We're in the homestretch of our 1 week Art Benefit show over at Printed Matter in Chelsea. For those in the NYC area, pieces will be on display through this weekend over at 195 Tenth Avenue between 21st and 22nd Street. We will continue to sell things at art.wfmu.org for the next few months as well.
There are still quite a few really great pieces up for grabs including Dan Funderburgh's Big Cipher print, Matthieu Gafsou's Surfaces #13, a brand new print by Awesome Vistas' honcho Chris Johanson as well as work by Mike Kelley, Richard Prince, Christian Marclay, Terence Koh, and many others.
For the most part I tend to agree with The Best Show's Tom Scharpling regarding his views on Star Wars' cultural influence (as expressed in a review of the recent Kevin Smith movie), but all the same one piece still available that I like a lot is a Luke Skywalker photo from Andrea Robbins and Max Becher's Figures series.
Robbins and Becher's work usually depicts fantastical bits of non-fiction, things that one would assume at first glance to be elaborate ruses but in fact turn out to be true. The main theme of their work is the "transportation of place". I first stumbled on their work out at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco which was showing a collection of their photographs named German Indians which depicted, among other things, middle aged germans dressed up in elaborate native american garb, erecting teepes and swilling beer. Amazingly it turns out the there is a German subculture which identifies strongly with Native Americans as victims of the American government's oppression and perhaps view a certain kinship with them due to the fact that American military bases unjustly occupy German land. Other series by Robbins and Becher explore a logging town in Washington that transforms itself into a Bavarian village to attract tourists and the 770 series in which Orthodox jews erect perfect replicas of purported messiah Rabbi Schneerson's Brooklyn home around the world.
In the Figures series, time seems to supplant place as the dominant theme as pictures of Star Wars action figures that came out in 1970s are put side by side with their contemporary counterparts. Unsurprisingly all the newer figures seem to have taken prodigious amounts of steroids. I was pleasantly surprised when I asked my 4 year old which Luke Skywalker figure he would rather play with and he chose the 70s version (which I was very much not expecting to be the case).(Note: I'm showing Darth Vader here as I couldnt get a good shot of Luke).
Stuart Hawkins is another participating artist in our show who deals with the fluid nature of place and identity against a global backdrop. A resident of Nepal and New York, Hawkins' work takes a somewhat absurdist view of globalization as she stages elaborate, fellini-esque set pieces in which both her friends as well as passer-bys have fun reinterpreting cultural exports from the first world.
Much has been written about cultural imperialism and one can't help but be depressed when you see something like a Starbucks shop in China's Forbidden City (now closed). Hawkins' work is a rare example of someone taking the trouble to get the other side of the story and if her work is any indication, the developing world thinks we're taking ourselves a bit too seriously. How else could you possibly explain the drama and gravitas that one might find in your average, run of the mill soft drink advert?