Lost

Dave Miko in der Galerie Parisa Kind

Schon immer hat seine Malerei unterschiedliche Formen angenommen: surrealistische Gefilde, deren Leere durch schemenhafte Objekte betont wird, mit physikalischer Sachlichkeit ausgeführte Spektralanalysen, Buchstaben, die entweder als vielsagende Zeichen umher flottieren oder sich zu nicht minder mehrdeutigen Worten zusammen finden, mikro-organismische Netzstrukturen, oder auch vollständig anekdotenfreie Farbfeldmalerei.

Ungeachtet dramatischer Farb- und Formkontraste scheint alles Geschehen von einer eigentümlichen Stille durchzogen. Dies erstaunt umso mehr, als Ölmalerei auf Aluminium das Gegenteil des leichter kontrollierbaren Öl auf Leinwand-Verfahrens darstellt. Während bei letzterem Änderungen unbegrenzt lang möglich bleiben, erfordert die von Miko bevorzugte Methode ein zügiges Vorgehen, das keinerlei Korrekturen erlaubt. Das Ergebnis ist daher Zeugnis einer einmaligen Performance ohne Probe und Wiederholung.

Miko "yettobetitled 4", 11, © Galerie Parisa Kind

Auffallend an den aktuellen Bildern ist der Kontrast von Malerei und Zeichnung, Fläche und Linie. Aus nuancierter Farbe lösen sich unvermittelt Bänder - manchmal so schmal, dass sie wie bloße Konturen einer noch nicht vollständigen Form wirken. Oder besser: nicht mehr vollständig, handelt die Lost Mermaids betitelte Ausstellung doch von Verlusterfahrungen im Wandel der Zeit. Der programmatische Titel ist durchaus nachvollziehbar, denn tatsächlich enthalten etliche Arbeiten Ganzheiten, deren Konturen Risse aufweisen, während Teilaspekte sich von ihnen trennen.

Miko "yettobetitled 2", 11, © Galerie Parisa Kind

Sie alle leben von der Dynamik der Gestaltungsmittel - einerseits die der glänzenden Ölfarbe, die auf der undurchdringlichen Oberfläche des Aluminiums ihre Leuchtkraft bewahrt - andererseits die des Malers, der temperamentvolle Spontaneität mit dem rationalen Kalkül sorgfältig geschwungener Streifen verbindet.

Im Interesse einer gemeinsamen statt isolierten und konkurrenten Form der Kunstproduktion schließt Miko gern andere KünstlerInnen in eigene Ausstellungen ein oder überlässt Teile der Auswahl und Hängung dem Publikum.

Miko "yettobetitled 3" © Galerie Parisa Kind

Und so kryptisch die Bildsprache letzterem auch scheinen mag, so besteht sie doch aus Fragen und Antworten gegenüber den Arbeiten seiner KollegInnen.

Dieser Einsatz von Malerei als Mittel des Austauschs unter Gleichgesinnten veranschaulicht die viel zitierte Definition von Kunst als Kommunikationstechnologie.

Things Are Not What They Seem

Murakami and the difference between childlike and childish (2008)

 

Learning that an artist belongs to the most popular ones does not necessarily raise favourable concern. Looking at work which obviously begs for public attention makes us shrink back still further. But never trust first impressions.

Murakami, exhibition view MMK, Frankfurt, Germany, photo web

 

Clearing out old stuff

In Frankfurt am Main, the Museum fuer Moderne Kunst had been emptied to provide sufficient space for a body of work, which has made Japanese artist Takashi Murakami one of “the hundred most influential persons worldwide in 2008”. Murakami became known when he isolated Manga motifs from their context and surrounded them with ornament, based on a few repeated patterns.

Murakami "DOBs", photo web

 

In and out

So once again opinions are split between individuals inside and outside the art world. Inside reactions range from shrugging over moaning to screaming, outside from children's delight over adolescent receptiveness for primary sexual characteristics to stunning sums of money paid for enlarged toys.

In the face of Murakami's user-friendliness, precipitant critics fall for the first-glance-appearance of dolls, fashion accessories and sculpture, spotting blunt commercialism and locate the Japanese somewhere between the US-American Pattern and Decoration-movement of the 1980ies and the iconography of entertainment industry, aimed at the generation 2 ½ plus.

Bright colours, an overkill of sign stimuli and an omnipresent schema of large heads with still larger eyesserve to explain the artist's immense popularity as an effect of subjugation to the aethetics of consumer electronics.

Design by Murakami, photo web

 

Power selling

The fact that a shop for Murakami paraphernalia is enclosed within the exhibition space signals that the self proclaimed “marketing artist” considers distribution as an equal part of creation. This holistic notion of art as the union of creation and distribution makes the shrewd entrepreneur a pioneering figure, leading the way to the survival of the fittest – the artist, that is.

Under the name Kaikai Kiki a considerable assemblage of co-workers manage juridical and financial issues, specialists for computer animated images are concerned with drafts which il maestro leaves on the screen for further processing. Huge silk screen prints are revised by specially trained painters who are responsible for delicate lines within hall-sized wallpaper.

Murakami, plugged from the web without any details

 

Rather subject than object

So Murakami shows the path how to survive as a visual artist under present conditions. In order to do that he doesn't “bridge the gap” between art and commerce. Instead he feels utterly comfortable in it. Right from the start he has made commercialisation part of the work. Preferring to control than to be controlled he sets up his own distribution and has the media comply to his rules. So he strictly regulates publication of his pictures in the press. This way the self-proclaimed “marketing artist”, who creates bags for a high-priced company and videos for prominent musicians doesn't so much subjugate himself to any aspect of popular culture as in fact he forms it.

In this manner he settles the question how to earn a living as an artist in a country where the majority doesn't care a beep about contemporary art – at least in the victim's own words.

photo web

 

Deep Flatness

Murakami subsumes his work under the notion “superflat”. This obviously does not refer to his images´ outer appearance. In no spatial illusion is avoided but rather optimized. So “flatness” must have some metaphorical meaning. In his book The meaning of the Nonsense of the Meaning Murakami termed "superflat" as his definition of Japanese culture, which he describes as “extremely two-dimensional. In his Super Flat Manifest (2000) he describes "super flatness" as the original concept of the Japanese people which was completely westernised.

Consequently he considers himself the lonely representative of vanguard art in his country. Even though the term vanguard may sound outdated – in Japan there are still heroic deeds to be done. Although this evidently is not the place to elaborate on the status of contemporary art within Japanese society it's fair to say that a common mistrust among contemporary Japanese towards the value of today's art is certainly one reason for Murakami's confession to the aesthetics of mass media. Given the fact that no museum in Japan possesses any of his pieces it seems as if also his elective affinity to another famous “marketing artist” testifies to Murakami's wish to be recognized as an artist.

I am proud to be called Japan's Warhol, because this shows that people understand that I am contributing to the development of art.”

 

Mariko Mori "Burning Desire", photo web

 

The roots of synthetic flowers

Since integration of traditional elements is a common means among artists worldwide it´s unnecessary to quote Leiko Ikemura or Mariko Mori to recognize allusions to Buddhist deities in the employment of lotus flowers, multi-armed creatures and transcendental “guardians”.


Murakami with ancestor, photo web

Actually there are hints to ancestors all over the place. So Murakami affiliates bodily fluids, which adorn his quite permissive figurines, with traditional woodcuts by Katsushika Hokusai (1760 – 1849). 

Murakami, no further details, photo web

 

An additional example of art historical roots is the painting where the artist's alter ego, a figure called Mr. DOB, was born. The then tiny form emerged on a surface entirely imbued with International Klein Blue. In the following years it grew up, so to speak, on a threepartite painting where it surfed with Hiroshige-like waves over dreamy clouds of a strongly Tachist background.

Murakami, exhibition view, photo web

 

Just what is it what makes Murakami so different, so appealing?

In other words: which qualities separate Murakami´'s dolls from Toys”R”Us and breakfast TV? Plenty. Of course his figures and films repeat technique, looks and plots of Manga and Anime, and vice versa they transport this popular culture – that is art in the widest sense - into art in the narrow sense of the word. When the prominent Frankfurt museum mentioned above transformed its facade to “© Murakami Museum”, adjacent galleries immediately furnished their windows with similar items: happy, multi-coloured, sometimes garish and – superflat.

Terence Koh "Captain Buddha", 08, detail, © Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt a.M.

Of course the sudden appearance of children's world imagery happens neither sudden nor for the first time. A vast amount of Murakami's past and present peers combine decorative harmlessness with aggressive sexuality and nauseating depictions. But so far hardly anybody has fused the pretty and the cruel so compellingly. Apparently Murakami's work oscillates between shiny surfaces and the precipices underneath, walking the thin line between affirmation and subversion.



Murakami, still no details, photo web

 

Speaking of contradictions, the union of opposites is all pervading. The joy and threats of life are walking hand in hand about the Murakami universe - sometimes obviously partitioned into two figures called Kaikaiand Kiki, the protagonists of animated films, sometimes subtle like flowers on camouflage pattern or naked women transformed into fighter planes.

The reason that Murakami´s trading company bears the same name as the comic-strip heroes lies in the fact that Kaikaiand Kiki- the Japanese equivalent of “elegant” and “bizarre” – could serve as the common denominator of his whole assortment.

Another example of the inseparability of opposite forces are the hands of rubber dollMiss Koo, one reaching out in a communicative gesture, the other one clenched to a fist behind her back. This antagonistic movement of compliance and refusal also constitutes Murakami's pieces just as the inseparability of the nice and the ugly.

 

Even hardly charming activities like defecating and vomiting are presented in such a masterly decorative manner that it takes a second look to distinguish them from other types of wallpapers presented, like the ones covered with flowers or decorative logos.

A giant frog, in traditional Japanese culture a sign of recurrence, appears wherever those waste products, flooding the tableaus, give rise to additional Mr. DOBs. This way the crab transforms to new creatures which produce more crab which in turn … and so on and so forth. In short: the ancient model of cyclic existence energizes the Kaikai Kiki industry.

Murakami, no clue, photo web

 

Smiling as effect of moving muscles

Since the beginning of mankind pleasure and pain are inseparable, but in Murakami's “happy” faces and “joyful” colours this ambivalence emerges quite drastically. In fact the smiling mimicry of “gay” beings with “funny” faces is about as convincingly as the bare teeth in the distorted faces of Yue Minjun's “laughing” figures.

Hence it seems hasty to interpret “faces” with widely open mouths as friendly. Since reality was not the right place for smiling, Murakami explains, his figures' “smiles” were merely "effects of moving muscles". This commentary, revealing a general scepticism – almost cynicism – doesn't come as a surprise. Nobody would honestly believe that an adult meant characters like Murakami's “cute” creatures seriously. Cuddly gadgets may be endemic at best in the realm of pop music, but within the visual arts? Furthermore, born 1962 the artist doesn’t exactly fit the age group attracted by computer animated childlike features. So obviously there must be another layer beneath the streamlined appearance of this oh so happy universe.

Murakami "DOB", photo web

 

Murakami's awareness for the ambivalent nature of phenomena includes also the cost-benefit analysis of the establishment of brands – an issue, which once occupied the artist for years. Signboard Takashi

for instance depicts the word “Takashi”, printed in a font which resembles the letters used in American Westerns. Underneath it the slogan “First in quality among the world” is visible, and above two five-pointed stars, perforated by irregular wholes with burnt edges. In between these dubious holes, which bear strong resemblance to gun holes, the word “brand” is printed.

One last example for the dual nature of the popular is Murakami's mascot. Cheerful Mr. DOB

may have looked Micky Mousish in the beginning but later the jolly bubble head developed fangs and reduced his neatness.

Murakami in front, photo web

 

Accompanied by signals for rage, loss of control, weariness and sickness the now bleeding and gagging monster transformed to a depiction of the artist´s felt self – as he admits. And since Murakami explaines that a painting called Tan Tan Bo puking  was about greed he once again unifies the continuous alteration between craving and aversion in one image.

Hence irrespective of all alleged flatness Murakami's issues are heavy with content, above all impermanence and death. Annihilation pervades his inventory: According to the artist Mr. Pointy's  mushroom-like body represents the cloud of the atomic bombs which made Hiroshima and Nagasaki “superflat” - as Murakami puts it. As if to crown it all this memorial sits on a glossy frog – the Japanese symbol for recurrence, remember? And what will recur is clearly not the individual, since:

Everyone will eventually perish

we each have only one life to live

a meaningless speck

in the history of universe.”

 

These lines next to another picture don't leave much doubt about what will recur won't be a funny comic character.

Murakami, photo web

Machine Fair

A film by Joas-Sebastian Nebe (2011)

The subject of Machine Fair transfers the experience of a large city into images and sounds. The way this is achieved is best described by comparing this film from 2011 with two precursors – both equal but different. 

Still from "Koyaanisqatsi", photo web

In a nutshell Machine Fair could be termed the result of a city-dweller's sensory overload undergoing aesthetical refinement. By means of decontexualising and regrouping, a city's images and sounds are freed from narrative, the looped pieces are then mirrored along various axes, with new gestalts evolving. In much the same manner as random blobs on a sheet of paper are doubled by folding, the reflection of arbitrary impressions along vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines morphs casual sights into regular patterns. This generation of symmetry results in all kinds of expanding and contracting figures, and at least in the course of eNGINE only little fantasy is required to discern all sorts of creatures thanks to the axis' vertical alignment.

Still from "Koyaanisqatsi", photo web

The main connection between these images and the streets they were taken from is the fast movement which hints to a psychological level, suggesting that all those vertiginous occurrences might resemble an overstimulated mind.

Accelerated movements run back and forth, creating an impression of things going out of joint. This detachedness is intensified by the frames' Shaped Canvas-outline substituting the conventional rectangular format by inserting irregularly cut black planes.

These nervous as well as monotonous procedures may be reminiscent of the mad rush of city-life in Godfrey Reggio's Koyaanisqatsi (1982), except for one crucial detail. In that history of civilization space and time function emblematically as signs for a general here and now. Sublime deserts and hypertrophic cities are hardly identifiable as specific locations but rather as nature and culture at large. The accelerated movements likewise allude to the increasing speed of progress without referring to some particular pace. Contrary to this general comment on civilization, Machine Fair isn't about any large city but rather about a particular one – Berlin, to be exact. Even without the New Synagogue's shining bulbous spire which is the most distinctive feature among otherwise less conspicuous buildings, all sequences can easily be located within Berlin's oddly spacious cityscape, where showy boulevards and faceless frontages intersect. Yet although Nebe's imagery is definitely tied to this unique city, it is not subjected to the common perception. Rather than sharing the spectator's perspective by listing popular sights, Nebe alienates the familiar by picking four scenes consisting of static and moving elements, in order to fragment and precipitating them almost beyond recognition.

Still from "Synfonie der Großstadt", photo web

This blend of site-specificity and dramatised urban research parallels the audio-visual experience of a person not familiar with the sights, sounds and speed of a city. Overwhelmed by the size of architecture and the dynamic of traffic such a person would hardly be able to focus on individual human beings – a fact that distinguishes Machine Fair from another related yet distant film, namely Ruttmann's Symphonie der Großstadt. Although here mechanized processes are featured as well, Ruttmann hones in on the human factor. His Motive Force are inhabitants. Only they are the agents setting Engines, Flywheels and V-Belts in motion. Consequently the citizens of 1927 Berlin are rendered individually, whereas a century later Machine Fair includes their successors as kind of dummies – indistinct shapes inviting the spectator to fill the blank with their own associations.

Still from "Synfonie der Großstadt", photo web

Apart from those similarities Machine Fair's most salient feature is the abstraction of concrete phenomena into rhythmically pulsating patterns. Yet unlike the pleasant variety of a merely kaleidoscopic view the unfolding of structures in accordance with the soundtrack is directed by ruptures. Instead of harmony which is indispensable in order to generate an ornament, the chapters are organized by irregular disruptions caused by the alternation of acceleration and sudden halts of sound and image perfectly in sync. In addition to the coinciding pace, pictures and noises also match in terms of their expression, when for example collapsing movements are echoed by descending notes, or the sight of tram rails is taken up the sound resembling that of a train running over railway sleepers. The sounds obtained by looping road noise just like the pictures of the situations they arose from, determine the course of events significantly. Along with peculiar sights and erratic velocity the film offers an unconditioned perception of the all too familiar.

Motive Force

conveys a strongly kaleisdoscopic impression. Buildings collapse and re-erect along diagonal lines, interrupted by the calm sight of a track in asphalt, providing brief pauses during the flurry of images. A single bike, a single car. Many bikes tied to a banister, many cars tied to one another in a never-ending queue winding through an urban landscape of alternately brilliant and muted colours. Human figures get into the picture but even their repeated appearance doesn't render them any more identifiable. The contracting-expanding movements result in an altogether tumbling keynote which seems to unhinge the solid structures.

 

eNGINE

The first part's built environment made of architectural and traffic lines has turned into the more capacious surroundings of broad boulevards along Tiergarten, recognisable by the golden sheen of the Siegessaeule appearing in a blip above the trees. By means of multiple reflections cars hurtle towards and away from each other, and again the frenzy is interrupted by unadorned facades.

Instead of the sharp edges of constructed forms dominating MotiveForce contours have become blurred by shaky spectral lines. Headlights and street-lamps exude multicoloured aureoles, cyan swaths waft across the street as if exhaled by cars and trees or dreamed up by theosophist aura-painters – or by Karl Marx, who came up with the phrase “All that is solid melts into air”1. Contrary to the diagonal axes structuring MotiveForce, this “nature viewed through a temper”, to quote Klee's popular line, spans the screen horizontally, upside down at times. Although the colour palette is gaudier than the muffled hues of the first part's more pedestrian scenarios, the ride through the psycho-active park ends under an portentous cloudy sky.

 

Flywheel

By showing the golden light reflected by the New Synagogue's onion-domed tower Flywheel contains the only object with a signature design. The running speed drops, the soundtrack steadies, dignified frontages in rich colours, yet subtly nuanced and elegantly fashioned support the solidification provided by this sequence. Along mainly diagonal axis rows of houses come together and move apart simultaneously. The fabric of leafless trees joins spindly lamp posts to form a lacy tangle of dark lines in front of solid masonry. The focus rests on the architecture, only rarely some static vehicle appears at the bottom edge of the screen which again is framed by black bars.

 

V-Belt

Just now rather deep and sonorous, the pitch hoarsely climbs to a higher octave and concurrently also the colours become synthetic. Unlike the previous scenes that were captured outdoors V-Belt is set in a synthetic atmosphere without daylight, the artificiality being enhanced by a screeching noise. The movement is confined to a restless back and forth on a horizontal level. A recurring grid-like structure increases the resemblance to the helpless pacing of a tiger along the bars of its cage. Barriers and demarcations divide the evolving strip into segments. Faced with people in waiting positions the scene turns out as a tube station, which is finally left by the camera moving out in the open and both images and sound gaining momentum.

Only in this last quarter of the film human figures develop distinctive features of sorts, for their frequent reappearance makes them seem almost familiar. Although still hardly visible, we recognize them like we would recognize fellow commuters we used to meet same time, same place. Something like that goes for the scrawl on the wall. Illegible and hence interchangeable with every other doodle everywhere, its rhythmic return makes it a unique sign of this similarly ubiquitous station. This strange familiarity without any clear knowledge about the object also applies to the signboards outside. They too are recognisable due to their ubiquity although the lettering is reverse.

The brightly yellow bus announcing guided tours doesn't need any second coming to be recognisable as a characteristic feature of Berlin Mitte streetscape. Acting as the spectator's stand-in it spells out the film's main activity – touring the city, that is.


1Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels Manifesto of the Communist Party, Chapter 1 (http://bit.ly/AALDj).

On Shari Pierce's Agraphobia

at E324, Munich (2011)

Agraphobia, exhibition view, Photo CL

 

By mutual agreement

This show's topic is how society deals with sexual offense. In order to engage with the exhibits we have to meet a certain condition, and that is: we have to share Pierce’s assumption that each offender is a potential reoffender.

Diagnoses and treatments of perpetrators vary from country to country. While some states are concerned with data privacy to allow for possible rehabilitation of ex-convicts, in the US their further way of life is publicly monitored.

Within the framework of this show we cannot engage in general reflections like whether the culprit is fully accountable or else the defenseless victim of some organic dysfunction, which would make him sick and at the same time potentially remediable. To get in contact with Pierce’s work however, we better take up her perspective which is governed by a sensation of latent threat.

Agraphobia, exhibition view, Photo CL

 

The fact I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they weren’t after me

Indeed the assessment whether this fear is valid or not would require a survey concerning verifiable dangers caused by the offenders along with their action scope and recidivism rates.

For those however whose worldview is informed by the experience of violence – be it from a victim’s or a witness' perspective – those surveys are irrelevant.

The fear of falling prey to crime remains abstract to those having been spared from it – just as those who have never been involved in an accident won’t comprehend the continuous state of alarm crash victims are susceptible to. As for persons suffering from trauma, on the contrary, the dread of a possible repetition can become overwhelming. This ongoing fear of sexual assault is indicated by the term Agraphobia– an anxiety disorder, induced by a perceived threat of unsolicited sexual approach.

The application of a psychological term1indicates a certain distance towards the designated condition, even a kind of doubt concerning her view’s veracity. From this slightly objectified position – standing slightly next to herself, so to speak – Pierce describes the impact of sexual infringements within her social environment as well as those conveyed on a daily basis by the media.

1 “My work is more psychological than literal.” (Unless specified otherwise all quotes stem from an email conversation with Shari Pierce, February 2011).

Agraphobia, exhibition view, Photo CL

 

Yes but is it art?

The severe consequences of sexual abuse notwithstanding, the question whether social issues are to be dealt with on an artistic level remains. From the artists' point of view an association of art and non-art topics causes unease concerning a possible functionalization of art. The public at large however rather wonders whether an aesthetic approach to political or juridical problems isn't an unnecessary detour towards the solution of a problem which in fact required a political or juridical solution.

This tricky conflict of opinion has been addressed by artists at the latest 1977, when Suzanne Lacy and Leslie Labowitz - in collaboration with local women's organizations - staged a performance called In Mourning and in Rage in commemoration of victims of a Los Angeles serial killer. This artistically performed protest defied the separation between “fine” and “socially engaged” arts which afterward has been flouted many times without ever having been abolished.

 

Nothing New under the Sun

During the history of mankind sexual violence has proven a successful means in the suppression of women – and enemies in general. Long before 20thCentury wars, mass rape had become a rewarding political strategy.

Within art history violence against women has always been visualized. In the baroque period rape used to be presented as an act of war in order to present the aggressor in a somewhat dignified manner. This happened with topics like the rape of the Sabines, which Rubens had rendered like some kind of transportation problem.

Equally subtle yet obvious the subject of rape appears in Gentileschi's Judith Beheading Holofernes (approx. 1620) insofar as allusions to a conceivable biographical motivation – a pictured revenge for rape - use to accompany the painting's dissemination.

After Goya's Los Desastres de la Guerra the application of sexual violence as a strategic instrument became increasingly visible within the 19thand 20thCentury.

Agraphobia, exhibition view, Photo CL

 

Form Follows Function

So obviously Pierce's key issue seems to be deeply entrenched in art history. However the necessity of dealing aesthetically with non-aesthetic issues remains controversial. Yet in Pierce's case content and form are by no means opposed to each other. Moreover contents determine their form, for in the beginning of each piece there has been some subject which subsequently is given outline and materials.

At the onset of the work on show here the initial question was, “who are these individuals? And where are they now?” The material stems from a database, designated to track the whereabouts of sexual offenders within the US. This research emerged from Pierce's previous project She LL, where she presented victims' writings along with one garment each.

 

Inhumanity with a human face

Since neither empathy nor rational comprehension are likely to settle the question “who they are”, Pierce ended up in doing what humans have always done in order to comprehend the incomprehensible: she made it visible.

Shaping what is impalpable has always been helpful in holding abstract forces at bay. Giving invisible threats the face of demons allowed for attacking and thus subduing them. In doing so hazy anxieties became tangible - opponents on an equal footing so to speak.

This time-honored countermeasure is now taken up by Pierce who is adding faces to an overwhelming amount of data.

Since the police camera's biometric premises don't tolerate any of strategy of flattering presentation, in terms of their relentlessness the database photographs resemble ancient depictions of the satanic. This way they don't show the offenders' public face but another one only their victims know.

 

Diamonds are a girl's best friend

Pierce's second question concerning the offenders' present stay led her to inquire on site. On the basis of all these findings the artist chose pictures and case histories which she then made into photo collages and accessories.

Since the 1960ies several artists considered their work to be objects, offered for use by the audience, thereby breaching the separation between producers and consumers. This way former recipients became co-workers and exhibits turned from being admired artefacts to be tools whereby the audience created the piece.

The combination of decorative form with terrifying content changed Pierce's view of her familiar territory.1Instead of referring to her objects as jewelry, they rather function as memory aids like 'awareness ribbons' do.2

Wearing those photographs on the body like trinkets creates a more immediate contact compared to exhibits which remain at a distance. A necklace made from pictures of rapists causes an involvement in a more urgent way than an exhibition does. The latter is easy to access and exit whereas jewelry violates one's privacy just as the subject it deals with does. Moreover since objects attached to the body may transform one's self-perception and self-esteem, the ongoing contact with a piece constantly remaining perceptible and visible can lead to a latent feeling of imminence.

By way of building up an almost inescapable concernment, the previously distant threat comes closer and what seemed like some weird “anxiety disorder” suddenly materializes.

 

Pierce's objects are strongly motivated by gendered behavior. Particularly in the US girls grow up to the expectation to be given jewelry as evidence for being loved by a man. This major significance of jewelry made Pierce aware of its capacity to represent realities – especially realities of women. This function as a marker of meaningful events in life is now complemented by the dark side of being the object of desire.

The pros and cons of such consciousness raising remain controversial, and this is intended by the artist3,who is guided by convictions as well as by open questions.

 

1 I am not sure if they are jewelry anymore. I see the pieces as jewelry only in the sense that I want the viewer to use the body as a reference. The audience takes less distance to the work if they think about 36 sexual offenders hanging around their neck rather than viewing it as merely a wall piece to be observed from a distance.”

2 I am inspired by the contemporary phenomenon of ‘awareness ribbons and bracelets’ that people wear to express their concern of current social issues.”

3 Question: „What would be the ultimate result you're expecting from all your work dealing with this subject?”

Pierce: “In the short term: Discussion, inspired thought, to be thought provoking - positive or negative discussion. In my last exhibition in Amsterdam the gallerist said he had to speak about my work all day long. Whether people loved or hated my work or the topic, they did not leave without a discussion. If people would have entered the space, said nothing and felt nothing and left then I would say that I failed.”