Contemporary American culture is wrought with intricacies and idiosyncrasies based around its delicate historical mythology and power structure. The overlooked, unspoken, infamous and forgotten are all integral part of that history, yet seldom acknowledged as such. My new work attempts to confront American culture and its idiosyncrasies with a skeptical eye toward popularly accepted dogma and to the facts of the extreme fringe, while never remaining completely neutral. That which most would rather leave alone I find the most interest in, not because of a morbid fascination, but because history of any kind has two readings, that of the profane and that of the secret, that of the exoteric and of the esoteric. But both drive the wheels of history with equal force. Even a cursory reading of any American history book reveals that something is not quite right with the picture given. What we get are whole chapters missing, peoples forgotten, ideologies decentered or suppressed. The picture given is at best incomplete and at worst an actual lie.
When confronting American culture and history, one has to begin with the question, what is American culture in the first place? The answer seems to be a history of space and stuff (objects, property, etc) which contains its absolute inverse, the unspoken history of lack and loss (spirituality, individual rights, etc). This opposition is itself driven by the strictly American concept of power, and the myth of growth at the expense of everything else. In other words, the American state, especially its new corporate version, constitutes the Freudian/Lacanian concept of the primordial father, whose power is diverted into its jouissance, its enjoyment, via the transgression of the ceaseless violation of his children. Its culture therefore is the object of the subject’s very enjoyment. These opposites and containments are a common thread throughout my work. I seek to show the thin line that runs between seeming opposites and how easily one emerges as a mirror image of the other.
As such, I reorganize and decontextualize the typically male chauvinist objects and materials (two by fours, insulation, etc) from their place of origin, the construction site, into the fluid and ephemeral worlds of art objects. My work tends toward the social and ecological concerns, in the tradition of Beuys, Jimmie Durham, Leonardo Drew or the Arte Povera movement, via the use of the ready made and recycled objects and materials. The use of fire further alters the state of the objects in an almost alchemical fashion. I use torches to draw into wood or paper, or open fire to burn down books and eventually refashion them into works that speak to the relations that the symbolic primordial father has to his children, either through openly grotesque displays of power such as book burnings (even in very recent times), torture and incarceration, to the more subtle but no less insidious prohibitions it exerts, like a ban on homosexuality, censorship, privatization of the commons and so on, while at the same time it promotes the spectacularized image of the land of the free and the brave. The work is an intervention, anti-monumental and anti-sublime, an assertion of individual determination in a world of increasing homogenization toward a self-perpetuating totality.