You. I Mean Me. I Mean You
March 20 – July 17, 2022
This exhibit presents visual and audio installations that defy the traditional museum experience: Entire walls are wrapped in digital prints on vinyl containing unsettling imagery and torrents of words, sometimes assembled as clever one-liners, sometimes strung together as prose-like rants. Initially, the viewer may not know how to assimilate the profusion of words and imagery, yet their underlying meanings are inherently felt.
In the first room, jumbles of propaganda-like slogans such as I am Frivolous, Sale Ends Today, I shop therefore I am,and Like a Virgin, are collaged with lacerated ads and personas, all framed by larger than life, colorless hands.
Next, we are greeted with stark, simplistic statements: square and rectangular units contain the phrases Too Big To Fail, Greedy Shmuck and Money Is Like Shit. Untitled (Cast of Characters) displays a long list of those that constitute our hierarchy: Fatuous Fools, Bloated Egos, Lovers, Singers, Sycophants, Professors, Big Shots, Feelers, Acolytes, Believers, to name just a few.
Upon entering the third room, we are thrown into a disorienting panoramic experience – the floor and walls are lined with an infinity of words in black and white, some warped to appear as if read through a looking glass. Sentiments about war, womanhood, and power pervade.
Another room yields a reddish theme, complete with a bright crimson floor sprawled across with white expressions, and anatomically referenced imagery. Untitled (Feel is something you do with your hands) depicts a lady’s manicured hand shown through an X-Ray, revealing its empty, skeletal version underneath, as if to say that surely, sensations can only be felt on a material level. Untitled (Truth) shows a pair of male hands against a green backdrop stretching a flimsy piece of fabric printed with the red letters TRUTH, because, surely, the truth is a fragile, bendable thing.
Some rooms penetrate the viewer solely through audio and film, with multiple projections flashing alternating scenes on all walls, with corresponding soundtracks on loops, adding to the uneasy atmosphere.
One such installation begins with opposite images of both a young and old man grooming themselves in bathroom mirrors, encapsulating the self-consciousness of age and body image in today’s culture. Other cognitive dissonant scenes: masses of metropolitan people; boxers; prayers; hair braiding techniques; mouths with blurred faces; fleeting dance room scenes; and fluffy cats with the meme “What do you want from me?”. These visual displays are all complemented by high frequency noises and soothing sayings like “Take Care of Yourself”.
Through examples of identity crises, power obsession, and consumerism, these installations assault our illusions about mainstream media by visibly reducing it to what it actually is, a bunch of gibberish.
Cover image: installation view, Thinking of
You. I Mean Me. I Mean You; images courtesy of LACMA, photographed by the author