Searching For Alternative Facts At Hackney’s Stour Space
By Sumit Rehal and Anton Constantinou
What can we say about fake news that hasn’t been said a million times already? Just recently, we attempted to deconstruct its meaning in hip hop terms, using a range of news stories to show just how absurd it’s all become. Right now, we’re revisiting that theme off the back of an art exhibition we attended at Hackney’s Stour Space on Sunday 30th April.
This venue, as you may remember, was the setting for another exhibition we went to back in January called Good Day – an outing which successfully spawned a review and two exclusive interviews with contributing artists, Gary Alford and Darren John.
Last month’s event in question, Alternative Facts, was all about consumerism and distortion of truth, behind of which lied Illinois print collective, Fatherless. Their silk-screen monoprints are as lurid as the ideas they push back against.
Through use of bold colours and layering, artists Jarrod Hennis, Javier Jimenez, Greg Lang, Dave Menard and Ben Rider together reveal a gaudy complexity to the way the media functions and communicates with us. For a small exhibition there was plenty to takeaway, as Highlight Nation writers Sumit Rehal and Anton Constantinou discovered.
How did you come across this exhibition?
I was so impressed with the Ice Cube exhibition we reviewed at Stour Space that I made sure to follow them on Instagram.
On the way back home from work I saw they posted about this new exhibition and thought it was something that we defo should visit. Coincidentally you were writing up a piece about fake news at the same time!
Oh awesome, these monoprints are very pop-artesque, aren’t they?
Proper – they remind me of the video game franchise, Fallout, which is about post-apocalyptic America if the aftermath of WW2 went sour. This theme also depicts the same idealistic western world that Americanisation in the Cold War was famous for.
It’s interesting how they’ve incorporated children into a few of the pieces. Do you think the intention is to show how damaging consumerism is on young minds?
For sure – one of the key successful marketing policies is that of “Cradle-to-grave“. If you manage to win the kids over from a young age, they will follow you for the rest of your life. This not only applies to business but to politics, society and of course war. This artistry depicts that well by showing kids in parallel with war weaponry.
Oh, darn, looks like this Date Night print has been sold. What a shame – I’d have bought it!
That said, I can’t stand the expression “date night“. Why the hell does society have to put a label on the time couples spend together, free from children and work? That’s like calling a Sunday visit to church, “religious morning”. So, you’re going out to dinner with your partner – big deal!
I dunno about you, but the couple in this print look like something you’d see on an old American propaganda poster. Judging by the straws, I’d say they’re sat in one of those retro diners, sipping on milkshakes.
Back in 50s, in America at least, it was all about having the perfect family, and I think that’s partly what’s being satirised here. What do you think?
It’s called the “American Dream” for a reason. Because it’s just that – a fantasy. The negative side or the journey of that lifestyle was hardly ever depicted by the media. It’s really only now, with more experience and information, that we really realise how damaging these false depictions are.
Hmm, what do you make of this medical examination print? To be honest, I’m not quite sure what the underlying message is…
That’s what’s quite unique about these art pieces: they’re very open to the viewer’s interpretation and don’t give an explicit message.
Sick – they’ve got breakdancers performing here! What’s that tune playing in the background?”
Oh damn that’s J Dilla!
Which particular prints have caught your attention, then?
For me it’s that print that shows a Ronald Reagan type leader with the headline of “Power & Lies”. It’s quite demonic and really captures the agenda of false prophets.
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