How do artists reflect on modern politics, commerce and technology, at a time when Britain is planning to leave the EU, immigration remains a major world issue and the 2016 US presidential election, which may have been influenced by Russia’s infiltration of email accounts, resulted in President who uses twitter relentlessly?
The third of four exhibitions on the theme of “Looking at one thing and thinking of something else” at the Carroll/Fletcher gallery in London, “United We Stand” brings together works from international artists reflecting on modern politics in the digital age.
If 2016 had turned out differently, would the world be a different place. Could you imagine a united Europe saving the universe? In 2005, Eva and Franco Mattes thought it might, with their spoof film poster “United We Stand” where Europe, with a stellar cast of actors, saves the world from potential disaster in 2020.
Social and digital media is a major focus of the exhibition. In 2000, the artists UBERMORGEN unleashed a major storm when they set up a [V]ote-Auction website, allowing US citizens to sell their vote to the highest bidder, resulting in outrage, injunctions and legal investigations amounting to 700 kg of (non-digital) legal documents, while Rafael Lozano-Hemmer uses facial recognition technology focussed back on visitors to continue the search for the 43 students from the Ayotzinapa school in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico who were kidnapped and, sadly thought to be murdered in 2014…..but there is always hope.
Thomson & Craighead convert the ongoing stream of news headlines from around the world into creative loops of text, while Basel Abbas and Abou-Rahme’s three channel video installation of words and images from the 1970’s to today reflects on a modern world where people try to retain and cherish historic and cultural values while enduring violence and unrest and, lastly, UBERMORGEN created a cannibalistic model for Google where thousands of on-line ads were placed on websites, with the micropayments then being used to buy Google shares “We buy Google via their own advertisement! Google eats itself- but in the end we own it!” At the current rate of progress, however, it will take 200 million years, by which time it is unlikely that Google will exist, so the shares will be worthless.
Lastly, a reflection on the commerciality of the art world with the words “I can’t work like this” created by Natascha Haghighian from the white space left over from a wall hammered full of the nails used to assemble stands in commercial art fairs.
Looking forward to Part Four….