October 8, 2011 – November 26, 2011
The Lunch Box Gallery is pleased to announce its new show America, like it or not by acclaimed photographers Kirk Crippens, JosÃ© J. Figueroa and Rodolfo Vanmarcke.
America, like it or not aims to gather three different visions of America today, from the transgression of the American culture into other societies to the visual consequences of the Great Depression. Kirk Crippens is a highly renowned artist currently based in San Francisco, California, attending the distinguished Stanford Continuing Studies concentration in Art and who has had an outstanding career within the artistic photography realm. Awarded as the Top 50 Photographer in Photolucidaâ€™s Critical Mass, and nominated for the 2011-2013 Eureka Fellowship Program (a project of the Fleishhacker Foundation), Crippens has a strong background in photojournalism and has developed fascinating observational series which has been exhibited in prestigious galleries and art magazines; among them, his widely reviewed â€œForeclosure, USAâ€ series, from which 6 photographs are being exhibited at The Lunch Box Gallery.
Crippensâ€™ work â€œForeclosure, USAâ€ is inspired by the Dust Bowl photographs of the Great Depression. According to him, â€œin recent years, the financial distress induced by widespread foreclosures in the United States has become an urgent national concern. There is still much public discourse on how to solve the problem that has decimated communities, threatens the countryâ€™s entire financial system, and seems to discredit the American Dream. Lots of foreclosures, yet not much closureâ€.
His project focuses on the foreclosure crisis in Stockton, California. Only a few years ago, Stockton seemed to manifest the vision of America in its unreserved sense of possibility and its openness to business. Sadly, it is now better known as one of the epicenters of the foreclosure crisis. In the first quarter of 2009, one in every 27 housing units in the region received a foreclosure notice, against a national rate of about one in 159. According to Crippens, this series promotes dialogue about sustainable economic growth in local communities everywhere and educates about the real cost of the unquestioned American Dream.
The second artist who shapes America, like it or not is JosÃ© JoaquÃn Figueroa. Currently living in New York City, he attends the The Cooper Union School of Art after being granted with a full-tuition scholarship and has exhibited worldwide, including in the prestigious FIA XX Iberoamerican Art Fair. Figueroa is showing two series, one work composed of 9 images that belong to the series â€œEl pitiyanki: American Quiltâ€, and 6 polaroids of his series â€œMartyrsâ€. According to the artist, â€œadvertising, consumer goods, television, colonization, mass media, globalization… American culture plays a fundamental role in both my Venezuelan society and my generation. In Venezuela, I struggled between what aspects of American culture belonged to me or did not; as the line
between national/American and colonizer/colonized is blurry most of the timeâ€.
With this thought, his work arises from the necessity of ingesting and trying to digest some of the possibilities that the American consumer landscape continuously places into our daily lives while dealing with the complexity of gender stereotypes and race in Latin America. As the artist, he uses his body and othersâ€™ as entities that experience, in a repetitive form, the massive consumption of elements that represent massive consumption. His fascination for popular American elements like logo identities and celebrity influence relies on their high level of transgression towards outside identity and cultures.
Figueroa uses humor and irony as vehicles to announce and denounce, to praise and criticize this reality of manufactured consumption and identity. It represents immediacy, desire and success, all of which, after ingested, often result in dissatisfaction and guilt. Like a martyr, he puts the performer in repeated situations of discomfort hoping that he or she might find transcendence. These gestures start merging into a more complex understanding of diverse and untamable possibilities of how to recognize and utilize American culture â€“ not just digest it.
Venezuelan photographer Rodolfo Vanmarcke is also participating in America, like it or not. Vanmarcke has widely exhibited profound photograph series that fully grasp the attention of viewers, not only in meaning and style, but in his inquisitive technique. Among others, he has participated in the XIV Shanghai Art Fair, in the project â€œOne Hour Photoâ€ at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, in â€œThe Deceptive Eye 2010â€ at Curatorâ€™s Voice Art Project curated by Professor Milagros Bello (Ph.D) and won the title â€œBest in Showâ€ in the 12th exhibition of Latin-American and Caribbean Art.
Always with an acute critical approach to reality, his vision of current America for this show is based on what he likes to call the â€œNew Normalsâ€. Vanmarckeâ€™s series is a visual practice that intends to represent some of the new and problematic scenarios of the contemporary world, which without realizing it, have become part of our everyday life. The portrayed situations reference a variety of the â€œaccidentsâ€ that are caused by the humans or the same society that embrace them. Vanmarcke is showing two pieces: one based on the BP oil spill, and the other one related to the abuse of analgesics and the excessive prescription of drugs in America.
Vanmarckeâ€™s series is built upon the closer look, which is at the same time terrifying, and that denounces what has become a habit; habit that is reached through a complex process of recognition, saturation and almost total slovenliness towards the existent conflict. As a result, indifference, apathy, abandonment and oblivion prevail, and thus a â€œnew normalâ€ is born.