Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Alex da Corte, Free Roses @ MASS MoCA

I hate to admit that the Internet has changed the way images are thought of. It is such a hackneyed line of thinking now, that to even find myself doing it makes me a little embarrassed. I hasten to call the resulting style of work the Tumblr esthetic, because it now seems Tumblr is dying a quick death; people are already onto Instagram, and I am just exhausted trying to keep up.

But if the abundance of images democratically popping up next to each other in people’s various social media feeds have led to questioning the importance of a traditional visual coherence in a body of work, then Alex da Corte seems to be taking it up a notch. Having gone through his rather ambitious show at MASS MoCA, I am not sure I like it, but it has stuck with me. What I remember is a lot of stuff that looked very cool, and I immediately imagined da Corte as someone much hipper than myself who has no qualms going all in on some garish bright colors, fluorescent lights and carpeting, lots and lots of carpeting.

I am not sure what the work means exactly. The carpet, a giant Kleenex box and erector set sculpture along with a giant cover of REM’s Green album with letters missing and a banana on it: the work all scream a vague free association of my own childhood, so I am guessing da Corte is of a similar age or at least young enough to glorify the period when I was a teen. But with the over-the-top colors and everything being so dark, it seems that his connection to suburbia of a certain period isn’t a happy one.

With this kind of random work, I can never quite tell whether the resistance to overt meaning is a punk rock confrontation of the viewer or just a cloying way of for the artist to avoid coming to hard artistic conclusions about the meaning and aspirations of the work. As a viewer, I am not sure if I am being swayed by vacuous work that feels cool or work that is aimed at an audience younger than myself. Either way, it has stuck with me, which is a lot more than I can say about most art.

Through Jan. 15th


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