The subtle manipulations of the infotainment industry may seem obvious in retrospect, but in their moment, the most effective forms of propaganda are nearly invisible.
Inspired by Cold War-era ad campaigns, “Forbidden in Plain Sight” uses the cultural detritus of the fading “American Century” to critique contemporary consumer culture, the ongoing wars in the Middle East, and the rise of the U.S. surveillance state.
These abstract collage “paintings” evoke a candy-coated version of American myth-making – myths then torn apart (literally) in order to create new meanings. The brilliant colors of the “Swinging Sixties” are juxtaposed against monochromatic iconography of the war machine; black-and-white apocalyptic landscapes that bleed into a hallucinatory palette of absurdist subvertisements.
Wielding a pair of scissors in lieu of a paintbrush, new hybridized images are gradually built up from dozens of cut up paper fragments, arranged and rearranged layer upon layer, to create repeating patterns of texture and color. Freely sampling and remixing old advertisements, these fractured photographs have been deliberately stripped of their original context so as to reveal their “true” meaning. The resulting photomontages are a meditation on the use of visual communication as a form of social conditioning and social control.
These 36 collage paintings build upon my previous experiences as a printmaker and zine publisher. Originally produced as photocopy art, the cut-and-paste aesthetic of the zine world was a direct result of editors laying out pages entirely by hand (a combination of line art, “found art,” Scotch tape, and rubber cement) to create overlapping layers of images and text. These are the same techniques that I use to create my hand cut collage paintings: the use of cutting tools to remove excess material in order to reveal new shapes. This is a process that is available to anyone with scissors and a glue stick. As such, it is a truly democratic form of art.