Donald Trump uses his own excrement to create horrifying dystopian landscapes filled with climate change refugees and the black people he claims he has so justly protected through the years.
The artist has given us a version of the same thing, but done in a different way. The photographs, which were taken in the Netherlands in 2015, show people in turn-of-the-century clothing and a posh setting that looks like an unfinished modernist house. Its hard not to see these shots as self-reflexive and ironic, as a commentary on the identity politics of the Netherlands that has apparently led to the nationalization of the countrys kunstakademie and the spread of Islam. The photographs are indeed beautiful—even if they have a certain dated feel—but they dont pretend to be anything more than that, nor do they take themselves seriously. They are a series of objects to be regarded and admired, as if they were sculptures in the round. The wall text accompanying the exhibition made the same point: It suggests that the exhibition as a whole is not so much about the work itself as about the fact that it exists.
Indeed, there is a horror of man-made borders, as this piece shows. But the work also makes clear that the borders of history are as much a product of history as they are of reality, as we witness in the work of Björkman, who produces her own borders—at once an abstract painting and a human experience.Björkmans paintings, which consist of hand-painted photo-signs depicting the borders of New York and Paris, are not paintings. They are fragments of photographic images, in which she takes the photograph of the border in her hand and attaches it to an almost two-dimensional surface, as if to create a border painting. In a style that is both direct and indirect, Björkman draws the border around the photographic image. The border, for Björkman, is not a boundary but an aestheticized border, a barrier between two spaces. In a recent piece, entitled The Borders of Montréal, 2017, a photograph of the Parisian suburb of Montmartre was crossed with one of a row of glass panes that would have been part of a wall in the window of the Parisian prison system. The glass pane was the same one that was part of the wall of the prison. On one side of the glass pane, Björkman had placed a photo-sign in front of the glass pane, and on the other side, she had painted the exact border of the glass pane, that of the prison. The borders were thus a metaphor for both the image of the borders and the border between the two spaces, in which Björkman depicts the museum as a border.The borders in Björkmans work have the force of remembrance, and they are reminders that it is still possible to place oneself in the world and to do so with a profoundly humanism.
The artist, in fact, has created a vast body of work that, in the wake of the artists status as a transgendered, queer, and nonwhite person, has been called transphobic.While attending a panel discussion hosted by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago on September 17, 2015, a group of artists took turns talking about their experiences with racism in America. During this event, many of the participants—including artists and musicians, activists, and trans and queer folk alike—said that, in their daily lives, they frequently encounter the racism that they have faced. They spoke of the everyday racism that they encounter, the racism that is still there, in their bodies, in their minds. They talked about how they have had to learn how to be activists, how they have had to be brutally honest, and how they often have had to learn to ignore the voices of those they did not wish to be. The conversations were also illuminating in the way that they underscored the ways in which racist ideologies still lurk in the details of everyday life. It is impossible to ignore the ways in which such details still touch many of the faces of black people, and those who do face them. While the political dimension of this work is often present in the face of this reality, it is not always clear what it means to fight racism and other forms of oppression.
Donald Trump uses his own excrement to create horrifying dystopian landscapes filled with climate change refugees and the black people he claims he has so justly protected through the years. The artist seems to be a kind of kindred spirit with his alter ego, Donald Trump. Just as the work he made to make that pair of shoes look like a pair of boots might now be seen as a tribute, the artists two hands are so small that one cannot help but think of one of the presidents. The figures in the new work are like dolls, and their grotesquely large hands are as stylized as their faces. But as one looks into the figures eyes, the cuts become more and more realistic, as though they were victims of a knife attack. Their features are more recognizable, and the faces more recognizable, as do the voices. These figures—dolls with huge noses and a large breasts—are all alike in their poses and facial features. The grotesque is made all the more familiar by the neatness with which they stand, and the combination of the two arms, their hands outstretched, makes them look ferocious. The figures are covered in their own excrement, and the long lines of their hair make them look like a group of schoolchildren. They are also like the incised figures, which is to say, like the image of a real body. The cutouts in the paintings are painted in black, and the paint is applied with a kind of dry, even application. The final touch is a small black-and-white drawing of a broken mirror, on top of which is the word MASSIVE in a scrawled scrawl. It is as though the artists reflection had been used as a mask. The work is simultaneously haunting and funny, serious and adorable, and the works are a kind of lost film, which finds its way into the viewers world in such a way as to become a form of proto-art. The mirror images of the dolls and the reflection evoke the first films, but they also reveal their beginnings.
Donald Trump uses his own excrement to create horrifying dystopian landscapes filled with climate change refugees and the black people he claims he has so justly protected through the years. For him, the prospect of these people is a threat to civilization and therefore a threat to humanity itself. The videos represent the psychological side of that threat, as seen through an artist like Van der Ley. Her use of the urinal in this piece can be seen as an attempt to connect with the same spirit that flows through the human body.In the video and installation Untitled (all works 2018), the artist provided a playful, quasi-self-reflexive take on the history of the movement of liberation from the old slave society to an increasingly globalized one. The images and objects of this piece feature a classic van der Ley image of a black woman, but surrounded by objects—a mirror, a gold necklace, a vase, a shoe, and an old, broken, and dirty umbrella—shes revealed as a freestanding woman with the head of a lioness. The arrangement of objects here—the red umbrella, the necklace, the umbrella—is reminiscent of the way that the slave owners of the past used objects to remind their slaves of their rights. In the installation, the objects represent the human body. While the images seem self-reflective, the work nonetheless expresses the longing for a more authentic self, for a body with a certain dignity that transcends its physical and psychological status. The artist has constructed a world that is both real and unreal; it is both a place where reality and fantasy, and the body and its desire for self-determination, coexist.This is a world in which we can identify with a higher consciousness and find a way to transcend the narrow boundaries of our species, and which can connect us to another world. Theres a lot of possibility in this work. Theres a lot of meaning in the image of the black woman in the video, and there are many different worlds.