Friday, February 10, 2017

The history of mass media through the art of Warhol and Weiwei

This article was first published on The Big Smoke on December 26, 2015. 

Have you ever stood in from an artwork and just thought “What the fuck?” I have. I have often wondered what I’m doing here – I have two kids, a full-time job, a full-time husband, and a full laundry basket, kitchen sink and rubbish bin waiting for me at home. So, why am I spending my time blinking at this… thing?
I don’t know about you but, over the years, I have found my answer.
I’ve stood in front of Mondrian’s cubes (1920s), Pollock’s drips (1950s), Koon’s shiny balloon dogs (1990s) and Delvoye’s giant shit-making machine Cloaca (2000), not just because it was a sensory experience (including watching food being digested in a machine and coming out as poop) but also, because upon reflection, they invariably help me understand the times we live in a bit better.
Mondrian’s neat cubes capture on canvas the coldness of modernism: the idea that there exists some form of supreme, machine-like, timeless, spaceless, context-less beauty that works for all. Pollock’s mad drippy paintings speak of America’s individualism, where individual achievement and self-fulfillment trumps all. Koon’s shiny balloon dogs show how we have embraced child-like silliness as a legitimate emotion for adults. And Delvoye’s shit-maker literally symbolises post-modern irony, where everything is shit, but it’s ok as long as we can smirk about it. That I can have these profound reflections in a matter of minutes, accompanied by a sensory experience, is an intellectual high.
Of course, some artists do it better than others. Both Warhol and Weiwei are masters at it. So how what epiphanies can we have from the massive Andy Warhol-Ai Weiwei exhibition at the NGV that brings together 300 works by the two artists? In this article, I will discuss one.
Warhol and Weiwei’s works are 3D representations of one the biggest disruption of our times: why new media powered by the Internet hit mainstream media in the gut.
Read more on The Big Smoke.

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