Low-Brow Meets Lower-Brow

Jessica Harrison, “Karen” (2013), Found ceramic, epoxy resin putty, enamel paint

Art We Like: Exquisite Horror 

The comments on this piece at Hyperallergic become a let’s see who can be as tasteless & insensitive with the word “derivative“, while also simultaneously flexing your hipster commenting muscle. This exhibition, which I saw earlier this year, still resonates with me. The idea of subverting or remixing something we know so well – kitschy tchotchkes and then adding a level of horror or other commentary to it seems to fit with our consumerist millennial paradigm.

We could actually pick it up, hold it in our hands and yet are forced to admire it much the way we would with the “real thing” in our grandmother’s vitrine which has now become an exhibition. This seemed like a very apt metaphor for this style of art communicating a message. Apparently there are many people working in this medium – from Shary Boyle, Penny Byrne, and others quoted in the raucous comments – it surprises me not, that they would completely ignore Makode Linde’s Afromantics (who made the clitorectomy cake that stirred up a racial firestorm) and addresses black face & racial politics in the banal use of ceramic commemorative pieces. His work, inspirational to me, might be a bit much for those that prefer their porcelains pretty. Even if that level of pretty now includes a helping of gore. These are not Guernica, for sure – but they do reflect a changed taste. Where violence to women’s bodies (particularly) is often exactly what Hollywood or Cable TV orders us  to accept unquestioning.

I’d like to believe these pieces are a meditation on that theme.