A new coterie of artists show razor wit, strong cultural critiques and point of views both sophisticated and democratic. They use  technology as well as, or, despite the rarefied world of the stark white gallery spaces of the elite.

The “Le Petit Prince” project frames itself on one original doll and his “adventures” through 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 in the casual social media world. One second of this image creates an instant cultural reference: it links our shared memories of Purple Rain with trends of “cute” that appeals to nostalgic impulses and a pre CGImemory of “real effects” and artistry;one that has attained a special status in a technological era where realness is fleeting.

Care to purify yourself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka?
Care to purify yourself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka?

This doll making speaks to an authentic badge of fandom as well as a casual appreciation of cuteness and puppetry and meta narrative satire that entered the modern social vocabulary through films such as “Team America: World Police”, “Being John Malkovich” and Dracula’s Lament from “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”; but these pop culture references are not intended to diminish the scope of this project that includes album covers, detailed vignettes, and a carefully constructed life of this little artist. This baby was crafted with love. The guitar, the hair: no words.

Sally Edelstein uses collage “as a means of examining social fictions”. This artist applies a 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 pieces work viscerally, aided through decades of women and gender studies/ media criticism courses in University curricula. As long as marketers and fashion taste makers 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, we want them back. The time-wasting task of looking through piles of stuff is a lost art form for most of us.

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 be homemakers (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.

Aurelien Juner provokes an immediate thought: “why didn’t I think of that?!” This is  the hallmark of post-modern art. These works are stunning and simple acts of re-appropriation.

Who hasn’t defaced a fashion magazine, or wanted to, in a similar way? But the message becomes richer, more cohesive and more effective with every piece. The photography is flawless, too. 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. This new form of mass media and grafitti-esque reappropriation constantly links back to the original production, to fashion and its messages. This art project is best viewed in its entirely, as it goes deeper and to very unexpected places beneath the surfaces it touches. It took months of having this picture before I noticed the carefully applied mask of Coca-cola covering Tom Ford’s face.

The Art of Troy Gua              Sally Edelstein Collage               Aurelien Juner