This is a show manifested with the intention of collapsing every possible assumption we may have about painting’s rhetoric in our post-internet collapse. Rupert Nuttle provided us with a diverse series of appropriations and two paintings from his personal collection. His reproductions included Jacques-Louis David’s Marat, Gerhard Richter’s Fenster, and several Minimal sculpture works. These pieces were contrasted with three paintings based on pulled-internet imagery, all of which carefully presented a representation of women that perhaps Nuttle believes we should expect and accept as
truth in 2012!!!!!!
When the question regarding the brutal female depiction in Nuttle’s PublicDisgrace piece,
(a close-encounter with a women’s vagina being staged, spread and photographed with a cell phone) was finally brought up an hour into his talk – it was a clear indication of the time we live in. It contentiously unveiled itself as a support apparatus for his deliveries of the female body, whether literally or figuratively. The question of his female representation was reduced by the conversation of appropriation in the gallery space. Does this mean that the misogynistic dialogue didn’t at all surprise the audience? That it was solely echoing the reality of our current state as a generation appeased by the assault of the hyperreal?
Playing with the quality of his appropriations, Nuttle distorted, resized and left unfinished some of the works, a reminder that the way we interact with imagery in this day and age is constantly shifting. Collapsing the categories of “Art” and the Internet image, the show drove home the state of dilution that art in the gallery space is facing today. Art of our past confronted political systems; today it no longer yields such impetus.
Instead, we have allowed ourselves to enter a state of unconventional iconoclasm, killing the art object through its endless reproduction. Nuttle cleverly addresses this condition by engaging with our simulated state through a painting methodology. Time is invested in the reproduction of these often fleeting images- the kitten meme, the supermodel or the Marat, as we know it through its infinite online existence. Presenting the works as paintings challenged the simulation and forced us to uncomfortably engage with the ephemeral imagery. If we are going to consume and assume the online cunt as staple, then we should prepare to be faced with it in a tangible setting; not simply dismissing it as misogynistic, anti-feminist practice.
Along with the paintings, Minimal sculpture references were installed throughout the space. Placing the Marat on a stack of carefully placed patio stones immediately paralleled Ana Mendieta’s fate (Carl Andre’s wife, whom he was of accused of killing) with the martyrdom of Charlotte Corday. This decision confirms that Nuttle was not working to perpetuate anti-feminist discourse but rather interrogating the phallocentric history of art and its present relationship to the internet-appropriated female.
Nuttle’s show finally brought discussion back to the NSCAD gallery space. Whether the work was loved or loathed, it was political, insulting and unconventional. 2012!!!!!!! was a reminder that perhaps we shouldn’t surrender to the discourse perpetuated by the Internet and instead reconsider art as a viable strategy in countering the affects of our postmodern apathy.
photos by Anfia Lin