[ Pink consumer is pure anti-poetry ]
Reviewer Robert Nelson
SATELLITE CITIES AND TABLOID LIFE
MANIT SRIWANICHPOOM, PINK MAN IN PARADISE
Vision is one-third optics, one-third psychology and one-third capital. Two exhibitions at different ends of Monash University concentrate on the capital part, the socio-economic engine that conditions how we see the world.
Satellite cities and tabloid life on the Clayton
campus takes its cue from the suburban centres of Melbourne's outer north.
This theory could probably be extended to inner-city
apartments, where a capital-intensive arsenal of images promotes the properties
for sale. They centre on lifestyle and fashion, beautiful stereotypes
The argument isn't entirely borne out by the artworks. Consider Family home by Howard Arkley. It shows a suburban house depicted in synthetic colour, which admittedly keys into the idea of a hyper-real fantasy. But while the picture was painted in 1993, the building stock depicted belongs to the 1960s, an epoch predating the computerised walk-throughs, the seductive fabrication of a cool bar culture and induction of media glamour, which have only arisen recently through lifestyle culture, as Hallows calls it.
Callum Morton's Farnshaven, Illinois is the work
closest to the theme, as it shows a great icon of modernism, Mies van
der Rohe's abstract Farnsworth House, dressed up as a convenience store.
Some works seem a bit coincidental to the theme,
such as Kathy Temin's witty White problem of 1992, which certainly has
elements of suburbia, fantasy and architecture but not at all in the direction
of suave-selling virtuality.
Maybe it's the problem of working with material
hatched in a different decade or spirit. Hallows has an argument which
is more contemporary and challenging than most of the artwork it illustrates.
The photographs show majestic holy sites in Bali. But in each of them, even in the furthest reaches of the sublime Balinese landscape, a pink man with a pink shopping trolley is visiting, has already got there before you and blights the vista with his shocking chroma and deadpan, useless purpose. He is a baleful anomaly, ruining the atmosphere with his mundane shopping and puncturing the compositions with lurid magenta, like a photographic fault, a cultural aberration yielding pure anti-poetry.
This pink man is anything but a cool photographic
gimmick. As essayist Claire Armstrong notes, the Thai artist is "concerned
with the negative impact of globalisation and consumerism on Asian culture".
Most of our consumer goods are grotesquely overcapitalised
because of global brand warfare, in which advertising budgets, rather
than quality, makes the difference in sales.
No matter what your eyes can behold, no matter how remote and sacrosanct, the pink man will cruel your vision, spoil all local significance and wheel his uniform trolley of consumer expectations all over it, laden with illusions and loud fantasies.