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Indepth Arts News:

"Lisa Kirk's Project: Revolution"
2007-07-05 until 2007-08-24
Steven Wolf Fine Arts
San Francisco, CA, USA United States of America

Revolution!, a mixed-media installation by Lisa Kirk will open at Steven Wolf Fine Arts in San Francisco, Thursday, July 5 and will run through August 24, 2007. In 1899, Norwegian-American economist and sociologist Thorstein Veblen published his Theory of The Leisure Class, a description and critique of the rise of the nouveau riche, the leisure class, the child of the Industrial Revolution. Veblen establishes a historical link to the past of nobility and clergy, suggesting an aspect of human nature to class division of work and idea of the image of wealth. Lisa Kirk, artist-curator-cultural-archeologist, indirectly unearths this concept from within our own culture of excess, greed, and war - our new leisure class - bringing attention to our symptoms of consumerism (*1). Kirk's artwork falls under the catch-phrase criticism of rampant consumerism, the result of complicating Veblen's conspicuous consumption with the idealism of revolt (think idealisms and failures of '68, the Zapatistas, the 2002 film The Revolution Will Not Be Televised), with her creation of art objects, and critique of our market driven art world (*2).

Kirk presents us with pop-trash, the detritus of our culture, glamorized as overly desirable commodity. Revolution! is an extensive and ongoing investigation that uses an archaeological approach to the present to expose our nature as simply consumers of objects and ideas. Kirk has pulled the vocabulary of reference for her project Revolution! from war, popular entertainment, middle-class America and the sentiment of nostalgia for revolt. Revolution! is chuck-full of cultural symbols, whose meanings have been complicated by the artist to not only be about violence and the appeal of something different. These objects purposefully address our own desires for wealth and happiness. These are the true objects revealed to us as they are, not as we see them. Think about it, do we truly know what we see, or even what we want? The AK-47 is not a gun, it is a shiny perfume bottle; it is money, power, and social status.

"Humanity the most savage of all species" announces Kirk's shiny gold billboard. Shot up by a corrections officer with bullets designed for prisoner riot control, this piece could double as a subtitle to this exhibition as it suggests that the artist has an underlying motive. This is a deeply personal exhibition essentially about us, not necessarily intended for us - perhaps more for the entertainment of the artist - but we are all implicated with the seductive physical texture and inferred value of her objects. What we are seeing is a collection of fetish objects from a virtual revolution in which our desires have become our weapons and our weapons our desires. The Urban Decay brand makeup-on-linen paintings have been shot up as well, this time by the artist with a paint ball gun. They were then burned. These minimal abstractions are a mix of the politics of body image and violence; a nod to Art History's Niki de Saint Phalle's shooting paintings, Yves Klien's fire paintings, and the destruction of the beautiful art object. Yet these pieces are somehow still beautiful. This is a cookie cutter revolution ready for consumption. This is an invitation appealing to the most revolutionary within us all with a shiny bling- bling smoking cash register and glittering cast AK 47's (*3).

*1.I think that the term nouveau riche is dated in 80's excess and our current millennium and post 9/11 excess demands its own term. *2. Conspicuous consumption is defined as the lavish spending on goods and services, which are acquired mainly for the purpose of displaying wealth, with the goal of attaining or maintaining social status. *3. Bling-bling is the imaginary sound light makes bouncing off of a diamond. Referring to predominance for excess also to a lifestyle built around excess spending and ostentation associated with rap and hip-hop culture internationally.

- Frederick Janka

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