5-13 October 2007
Opening Reception Friday, October 5, 2007, 6.00pm
Meeting with the artist, Friday, 12 October at 8 pm.
La coda dell’occhio
Kathryn B. Hiesinger has supervised, amongst others, the Designing Modern: 1920 to the Present exhibition, currently being held in Philadelphia (15 September 2007 – Spring 2008).
an interview to Gaialight
by Kathryn B. Hiesinger
pink branded crutches to stylish clients
who need them, and why in general,
as the artist asks, does medical equipment
merit so little aesthetic consideration?”
Kathryn B. Hiesinger
I recently interviewed Gaialight about her new work, “Light Treatment ” , which will be exhibited at Rome’s fifth international design fair, “Roma Design Piu’,” in October 2007. Building on her neo-Pop conceptual photo-collages of Coca-Cola cans, first shown in Rome at the Galleria Santa Cecilia in 2005, Gaia continues to use the visual language of pop art – its cartoon graphics, flatness, references to commercial art, and contradictions of scale and context – for her socio-political messages. In “Light Treatment,” Gaia applies comic and popular images and microtexts to tools for the disabled, among them, crutches, canes, hearing aids and walkers. These objects can be literally read, but also remain functional, if highly decorated tools. Accenting the densely decorated surfaces of these tools are heart-shaped stickers, a nod to the continuing pre-teen fondness for stickers, but also an ironic comment on the images they embrace.
Each decoration is thematically composed, most in the exhibition speaking directly to issues of physical or mental disability. Superman and Wonder Woman suggest the strength of the disabled as well as the freedom and power those with disabilities may have lost. Mona Lisa, a universal symbol of beauty, is also subversively photomontaged with other faces, including a scary Jack Nicholson from the film “The Shining,” and Uma Thurman in “Pulp Fiction.” Glamorous logos create glamorous-looking tools: hot-pink Chanel and Ferrari among others, “are powerful images,” according to the artist, “because of the contrast and contradiction of dramatically ugly aids to fancy, upscale brands.” Yet still, on a purely functional level, why shouldn’t Chanel sell pink branded crutches to stylish clients who need them, and why in general, as the artist asks, does medical equipment merit so little aesthetic consideration? Another piece is decorated with sumptuous blue Pfizer/Viagra pills and sticker hearts, another with Prozac capsules and the Statue of Liberty, their messages of freedom and recovered ability ringing loud and clear. One crutch is decorated with “Cherry,” a character from Quentin Tarantino’s film, “Grindhouse,” whose bionic leg serves as a weapon. There is also Wheelchair Barbie (actually “Share a Smile Becky,” a Barbie doll in a wheelchair introduced by Mattel in 1997) and a walker dedicated to film characters with disabilities, from James Stewart in “Rear Window,” to Heidi’s friend Clara and Almodovar’s “Lydia” in “Habla con ella.”
A number of the works are more purely political statements, “bringing up things which are particularly urgent at this time in our history,” said the artist, “and in a metaphorical way, need to be ‘cured’ (they all seem to need an ‘aid’).” An old Palestinian map decorates one crutch, the map completed with flags and symbols as well as repeated “No War” signs; below are Muppets Statler and Waldorf, “arguing as always,” Gaia noted, “repeating the same things without reaching a solution.” Another crutch is prisoner-themed, from Paris Hilton to Guantanamo Bay.
Born and educated in Rome, Gaia is now working in New York. Wherever she may be, Gaialight is certainly a young artist to watch.