Art Review, Erik Parker, Global

17 Dec

Oddly enough, looking at Erik Parker’s work, I’m prone to dislike it.  He uses these really bright dayglo colors that remind me of psychedelic posters and horrible eighties t-shirts.  They seem to be meant to take your eyes by force if need be, and almost hurt to look at.  There’s also something there that screams hipness, and the levels of irony he lays out occasionally reminds me of a peeved teenager, however his stuff, though it does the visual equivalent of shouting, does reward scrutiny, and believe me that surprised me.

Most of the time, when people shout, it’s because they’re trying to win by loudness rather than sense.  Parker does not shout because of that, he shouts because his art is a sort of ravings of a madman who has been brought up by American values.  (I’m not saying Parker is a madman, I’m saying he’s seeing through the eyes of a madman.)  So we’ve got Global.

Global is designed a little bit like a religious icon and a little bit like WPA art–very stylized with the circles around the head looking a little halo-like, while a blue figure stands in front of what might be the prow of a ship, or maybe on a large stage.  Naturally the colors are eyelash singing bright, blues and pinks and purples all fighting to dominate the eye.  The figure seems to be a little like lady liberty–she has the white sheet and the curled mouth, and that big ol’ Roman nose.

However, looking closer, she’s made up of hundreds of tiny figures, little robots and gears and mechanical arms that reach out and grab onto the scenery, almost as if to keep Liberty standing.  Also, there’s her eyes, her gear-like irises looking a little drugged, a little neurotic.  They remind me of a nervous cat.  It ends up making me think of some beauty pageant robot with an addiction problem of some sort.

What it reminds me of is the politics of the ’90’s, where globalization was mentioned constantly–it was one of the buzzwords of the decade, which detailed a very specific way of thinking.   Basically, the thinking went like this:  Communism as a threat is basically gone, now, what the world needs to do is encourage all countries to participate in the global marketplace, by participating in it everybody will benefit, each country will benefit as a result, and as the world grows more interdependent, different cultures will find ways to cooperate to answer problems, rather than do destructive things like fight wars and so-on.   On top of that, with computer technology moving at the rate it is, we will be able to manage this marketplace on a bigger scale than ever previously imagined.

It sounded nice, but it was mostly empty rhetoric.  For one thing, who’s going to be in charge of the marketplace is in question.  Second, it’s assuming that all countries want to be part of such a system (which is not true).  Third, it’s a theory that subtracts people from its thinking almost entirely, just because nations and corporations do well does not follow that individuals will do better as well.   Also (and this really annoyed me at the time) it ignores the fact that there had been a global marketplace since the middle ages, and it certainly didn’t end conflict then, nor does it now.

Which leads me to this global person.  Is she really representing the world?  Having her stand at the front of a ship would make her a sort of figurehead, I guess, but isn’t a figurehead also an empty bit of decoration?  Notice the ship behind could be more of a warship than some sort of Jolly Roger craft.  I see her as being more imposed onto the world (thus the loud colors) and there’s little places where she’s falling apart (notice the fluid leaking from her sleeve and out the corner of her mouth, and the big hole in her chin, how her head is much too big for her body).

So Erik Parker is much better than I thought he was at first.   I see some thought and sense beyond the stylized flash.  I still see him as a bit of a t-shirt artist, but he’s a smart one, so I’ll give him a pass.

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