So after testing out the potential for the Associated Artists for Propaganda Research in Corporate Identity: The Public Relations Industry and Other Post-Capitalist Concerns , I decided to continue with my plans to further explore the AAPR for my MFA thesis show. I had been doing a lot of reading on post-modern philosophy and had based my thesis paper on an experimental application of some of these theories;this includes an interest in meaning/surface context shifting and the instability of information systems as concrete knowns. I thought about the appropriation of these theories for my own work and imagined the possibilities of re-working these instabilities into an even more complex system for my own artistic purposes. I envisioned the AAPR utilizing a complex combination of language aesthetics, an open and limitless mixture of techniques and forms that could be interchangeable and malleable. I also wanted to undermine art and the elitism that produced a hierarchical structure for what was and what wasn’t important in the discussion of art theory and felt that I was utilizing the AAPR to break free of arts’ capitalist tendencies which strive for the development and promotion of sellable products for personal gain. I hoped to ultimately develop a new aesthetic based purely on a complexity of ideas and not on a well-defined recognizable and personal style.
Aesthetically, I wanted to treat the AAPR as an organization that could mimic the structuring utilized by corporations as well as using the aesthetics of punk and social sub cultures within a formal art context. I didn’t want any rules other than the rules that would dictate a contextual conclusion in and of itself both formally and conceptually according to what I wanted the AAPR to represent. I hoped for the collapse of high and low art into a single entity where their meanings were constantly in flux and shifted depending on the context of their use. What I really wanted was total freedom to have an excuse to make anything art.
One of my main interests had to do with duality and the power of combining opposites to create new meaning. One of the earliest sketches for the project shows a separation between what is “ideal” and what is “idea” so I decided that my exhibition would consist of 2 separate rooms, one which would be a “display” room and one that would be a “back” room, each a representation of one of these ideas. One of the earliest problems that I came across in the museum was a small wall that the museum director claimed couldn’t be moved. (I later found out that it was moveable and the same gallery director who lied to me years later was caught stealing from the museum and sent to jail for a year.) Instead of complaining further about it I designed my 2 rooms so that they would enclose the “unmovable” wall, making it invisible to the viewer but rendering it usable for me. I built one enclosed room on one side of the “unmovable” wall out of metal studs and sheet rock and put in a low ceiling to make it feel smaller and more intimate. In this room I built shelves and a cheap table for all of the things that I planned on putting in there. I brought in a ton of stuff from my studio including lots of books, sketches, photographs, VHS tapes and other materials that helped make it feel like a working studio. I also had a monitor in there which showed a live black and white image of what was happening in the front room.
On the other side of the “unmovable” wall I built another wall which together made the “display” room. I used the same white desk from the Corporate Identity show and took off the INFORMATION signage that I painted on it. I made 4 display cases out of wood to hang on the walls, painted them white and had glass tops made for them. In these I placed a series of various unmade parts from a plastic model kit of the “Big Foot” monster truck. I spray painted these flat black and laid them out symmetrically so that they looked like display cases that one sees in exhibitions of butterflies or insects. I had a fully made “Big Foot”model that I also spray painted flat black in the back room on the working table. I called the finished Big Foot model “The Big One” after a Michael Moore movie which was about the U.S. and it’s assumed proclivity towards world domination; I thought of the “Big Foot” monster truck as a metaphor for the over-scaled macho power of U.S. policy and used the unbuilt model parts in the “showroom” as a loose symbol of propaganda and the way information is purposefully obfuscated to benefit the powerful and the rich. On the back wall I painted a large dull landscape that I thought would, once again, subjugate painting to a lower form of expression.
Here are some images from the show. The last image was the postcard for the show and is a blurred image of a sheep. At the time the first cloned sheep Dolly was in the news and I thought of it as both a symbol of the potential of human science in its most horrific and promising forms, and as an image of society’s willingness to be brainwashed into believing the propaganda of the corporate mass media.