Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Salt Lake City
UTAH MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART | 20 South West Temple
Utah-84101 Salt Lake City
artists & participants
Framed within the animated climate of another presidential election year, Ideologue evokes the subtle structures that shape societal values, such as individual freedom, progress, nationalism, and identity. Through whimsical and subversive representations of social behaviors and political paradigms, the projects in this exhibition examine how the vast image culture of our globalized world elicits, demystifies, and resists current discourses on ideologies.
Iván Argote and Larissa Sansour immerse the majestic into unexpected contexts: Argote through Blind Kittens (2014), a 3D animation of iconic lion sculptures from Iraq, China, and Italy who aimlessly fumble around with a ball; Sansour with A Space Exodus (2009), in which the artist offers a hopeful vision for a Palestinian future by merging references to Neil Armstrong's moon landing with Stanley Kubrick's thematic concerns for human evolution and progress.
Focusing on the historic image of the American hobo, Kathryn Andrews collides themes of consumer culture with political platforms to critique the excesses of capitalism. Julia Wachtel juxtaposes Vegas showgirls with a drawing by a nine-year-old Syrian refugee, a gesture that grapples with the function of images in modern society and the socio-political landscape of our time.
Basim Magdy, Jeremy Deller, and Christoph Büchel locate contradictions and absurdities within dominant ideological forces. Magdy's text-based works, Clowns (2014) and The Future of Your Head (2008), reflect the artist's interest in the poetic quality of ambiguity, as the sardonic statements point to the deceptive perspectives and obscure rules that animate our lives. Deller's Doctor David Kelly. (2012) references the British scientist whose life ended shortly after being identified as the source for a controversial report on Iraq's supposed WMD program. Deller's silk-screen prints allude to the transience of memory when faced with seemingly great social and political consequence, a theme that is also present in Büchel's provocative video, America We Stand As One (2005). Appropriating a music video created as a patriotic tribute to the victims of 9/11, the artist overlays Arabic subtitles in a scathing gesture that addresses cultural and political questions highlighted by war and conflict, terrorism and global chaos. All three artists evoke principles of free speech, suggesting the way by which artistic expression enables viewers to actively reflect upon the challenging realities facing society today.
Fayçal Baghriche and Dan Mills point to issues of collectivity in terms of territory, statehood, and nationalism. In Baghriche's Envelopments (2015), the artist explores the color red through a monochromatic array of national flags. Particularly selecting country flags ending in red when rolled up, Baghriche considers the symbolism of the color in relation to historical and political associations. Mills' US Future States Atlas (2003–ongoing) resurrects elements of Manifest Destiny to satirically imagine what a future New World might look like. Through a process of erasure and rediscovery, Mills creates an idiosyncratic system of cartography complete with annotations and visualizations of how current data about wars and conflicts will influence future US annexations.
By exploring the visual cues that direct our senses of belief and belonging, the projects in this exhibition remind audiences of the power of humor in opening new modes of interpretation and understanding. In keeping with the delirious spirit of US campaign rhetoric and geopolitical conversations, Ideologue offers unconventional spaces of abstraction and reflection, encouraging a playful look at how contemporary artists poke fun at the political universe and its claims to social truth.
Curated by Rebecca Maksym
Special thanks to our Ideologue supporters: The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and Grandeur Peak Funds