What will be the echo of your existence?
The Occupy Movement sparked popular and media attention on the concentration of wealth among the top 1% of income earners, compared to the other 99%. Debates focus on what many perceive to be unfair taxation, unethical business practices, and unsustainable inequities. But perhaps we need to open up the debate. How does pop culture’s fascination with the elite, with celebrity, with high-living and high-spending support the 1%-99% paradigm? How do nostalgia and aspiration complicate our desires and actions?
The four artists in After Presence look at how the residue of aristocracy has seeped into every corner of our existence and continues to shape contemporary culture. Belgian artist David Claerbout, complicates the way we look at a stunning villa in the European countryside. The Canadian artists in the show change the way we look at treasures from antique shops and the faux antiques and cultural markers found in American hotel chains around the world.
The challenge of this exhibition is that the artists recognize that the same qualities that attract attention to an artwork (or an object or person) are also at work in more sinister tools of oppression such as propaganda, cults, tabloid journalism - even conspiracy theories.
After Presence examines a recent trend among artists making works that are wary of larger than life people, places and things - wary of “presence”. From opulent chandeliers to a peasant’s bicycle, from silver platters to beat-up coffee tables, the works in this exhibition tease out the complications and contradictions of iconic objects, and challenge us to re-examine our history, our assumptions and our perspectives.
Watch these videos to see Curator Timothy Long and artist Jack Anderson talk about the After Presence exhibition.