UNSEE THIS – 2022

Oil on canvas. H121.3 x W182.3 cm.

A dystopian orchestration set against the backdrop of Mussolini’s Italy. Mussolini’s fascism began 100 years ago in 1922 and lasted over two decades until his ignominious end in 1945. I have included the symbolic period trappings and in addition have fused multiple contemporary parallels.

UNSEE THIS draws attention to the effectiveness of Edward Bernays’ ideas applied in the execrable and insidious psychological manipulation of the advertising world.

Layered commentaries on wide ranging social issues of importance facing us today are referenced.

Our capitalist over-indulgence is exemplified in artist Rudolf Bauer’s Duisenburg – owned by the Guggenheim Museum. Looking on is art critic Waldemar Januszczak while inscribed on the ground is the Russian title (HP) of Ilya Ehrenburg’s The Life of the automobile. Kambaku – 1930-85 (great tusker) was one of the ‘magnificent seven’ elephants murdered by poachers for his ivory tusks in 1985.

The nuns giving the fascist salute address the Vatican’s complicity and total accommodation with totalitarian rule. The appropriation of Banksy’s ubiquitous rodent – in profusion, forms a ratline – the escape route via the Vatican for wanted Nazi war criminals in post-war Europe.

Placed compositionally central is Kari Lake – a contemporary Trumpian Q Anon disciple – standing precariously on the skin of a big bass drum in her high heels and oversized red Maga cap. An alternative witch’s hat is provided on an adjacent plinth.

Sadly, Hannah Arendt’s seminal Rise of Totalitarianism has been cast down a vortex or maelstrom formed by discarded books – now relics of a past time when authenticated knowledge was valued. The downward focus is on the conflagration of damnation as the end trajectory.

The orthogonals of the overhead electric energy source above the tram offers an abstract alternative of unseen power.

The precariously positioned tram hovering on the precipice features Felix the Cat – a Cerberus-like comic book guardian of the (imminent) underworld, for the unsuspecting (rather cute white dog) passengers. The tracks do, however, terminate at the keyboard and this offers a radical alternative to oblivion.

Jon Batiste the keyboard player with his head mounted as a Salome-ish trophy provides (a silent) – but only redemptive route – via a truly Utopian ephemeral cultural experiential performance.
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