Politically Motivated Artworks
Discuss how artists respond to the socio-political world as evident in the White Rabbit Gallery, Decade of the Rabbit exhibition or/and the permanent collection of the NSW Art Gallery. Discuss 3 works.
Artists create an artwork as a tool to clarify current political and social apprehensions that they are concerned about. The artist presents a particular point of view that represents a political or social issue which addresses public concern and stimulates the viewer??™s sensitivity. This is known as socio-political art and is portrayed through Ye Sen??™s work, Analysis, Sun Lei??™s Clarity, and Li Jianfeng??™s Newton??™s First Law from the White Rabbit Gallery, Decade of the Rabbit exhibition.
Firstly, Ye Sen??™s work, Analysis, takes a whole new approach of creativity in expressing his response towards the socio-political world. He attempts to awaken environmental issues and to improve the conditions. He says ???tradition is our mother??? referring to mother nature. With the help of skilled carvers, Sen made this creation from one single log of hardwood. He chose it because ???it looks almost like hard metal???. The purpose of having it look like hard metal is to make the impression of real chains connecting two pieces of wood logs together when in actual fact it is just an illusion created from only the one logwood. These chains symbolise human control over the environment, each other and consequently the world as a whole. The fact that the work is all made of wood represents his view of the reliance on Mother Nature and the destruction of it by the human race. Sen hoped to generate assumptions and consequentially reflection within the public. Therefore making the viewers consider this point of view that he tries to portray, that being the issue of the rapidly degrading planet and endangered wildlife due to mans man??™s destruction of the environment. The chain is a metaphor for the food chain, reminding the public of their dependency and exploitation of mother nature and the living environment that gets taken for granted and destroyed on a daily basis, like an innocent prisoner, chained together with no hope of freedom, only a desolate life of manipulation and torture.
Modern angst is expressed in the contemporary work of Sun Lei, in his creation of, Clarity. This work inspired by airport security scanners. It presents a suitcase with the contents completely transparent as they might appear on an airport scanner during a security search. However, all the items, that being a shirt, underpants, a laptop, a mobile phone, a bottle of vodka, a condom, cash and, intriguingly, three handguns, which depicts the gun culture, are three-dimensional and all made of clear plastic, as if the scanner has rendered them permanently transparent. The objects are everyday objects, symbolizing the surveillance of individuals on a daily basis, when its not even expected. This work is an expression of the social and human condition, commenting on the communications and surveillance that takes place in contemporary society due to technology that has run amok. The artist says ???for example, the mobile phone makes everyone visible and reachable at all times. With these technologies we start to lose our privacy. Everything about our lives is transparent. We are constantly being watched and judged and we are also destroyed by this clarity. We are constantly scanned and assessed like pieces of luggage.??? This is a comment that civilians in the society we live in are constantly being watched and monitored just like in George Orwell??™s famous novel 1984. This depicts loss of privacy in society resulting in personal turmoil. ???Everything is transparent, including ourselves.??? Lei focuses his artwork on modern life, which both fascinates and worries him. It is an expression of his concern on the impact and invasion of privacy that is brought about due to technological advances which is destroying the barriers of what was once known as confidentiality. ???Our age is filled with overstimulation??? he states, expressing his concern for the sociopolitical world concerning lack of privacy due to surveillance.
Yet another artist depicting his response to the socio-political world through his art is Li Jianfeng in his portrayal of Newton??™s First Law. He descries his work as ???a mess. Just like Chinese society.??? It is a comment on the social and human conditions in contemporary China. In addition, the fact that there is a politician without pants on is unconventional and therefore a comment on repressive regimes that the artist is fighting against, thus democracy and solidarity which can be achieved by improving the conditions under which the population lives, which is seen as extremely poor conditions that is portrayed in the artwork. The use of oil on canvas is used to create imagery that appears bright, colourful, and welcoming, but is actually a paradox to this, symbolising the contrast of appearance to reality in society. The work is distorted and in no particular order, thus it is not meant to make obvious sense to the viewer but rather make the audience think into the meaning behind the artwork and conceptualise what the artist is trying to convey. The craziness of the work is a reflection on the artists perception that this is what China is today, an over populated dominion, which results in personal turmoil as depicted in the artwork with the nude human figures that are extremely confronting, creating shock to the viewer. He says: ???Western society has discipline and order. Chinese society is chaotic and sick. I??™m not like other artists who want to paint nature. I want to criticise this society.??? Therefore, the artwork conveys the social issues, particularly the impact of the western society on the east and vice versa. The work is a criticism on Chinese society, which stimulates the viewer to address the issue of the repressive regime and thus respond to this social condition.
As conveyed by the three different artists from the White Rabbit Gallery, Decade of the Rabbit exhibition, the different artists responses to the socio-political world is presented through the artwork, all depicting different social and political issues that the artist seek to improve the conditions of by addressing public awareness.