John Hurrell – 24 February, 2012
Although the exhibition, colourful and light with its use of flimsy product packaging and paint, has several references to European art and social /economic history, its dominant drive is as an expression of contempt for the European Union.
Epicurios for an Other CV or,
The Geophagy of Europe & its Autochtonous Peoples or,
A Communist Kiosk in a Common Market
9 February 2012 - 10 March 2012
It is approximately two years since Daniel Malone last showed his artworks in Auckland (at Sue Crockford or at Gambia Castle), this current exhibtion being his first solo presentation at Hopkinson Cundy. Malone (ex Test Strip) now lives in Poland. Although well known here as a performance artist, he is also an astute curator of Polish conceptual art and a passionate researcher and writer about communism and democratic processes. It is no surprise then that this show is preoccupied with Poland’s joining of the European Union in 2004, its shift from a Soviet bloc communist nation to one participating in the free market ethos of capitalism - a move Malone clearly sees as backward and dumb.
Although the exhibition, colourful and light with its use of flimsy product packaging and paint, has many references to European art and social/economic history, its dominant drive is as an expression of contempt for the European Union. When Malone uses labels from cans of fruit and vegetables to make a long roll of ‘toilet paper’ for the first work on the catalogue, and presents Campari soda bottles as a flashing red light for the last, he is not only referring to the temptations of easy profits from manufacturing and the rapid flowing (‘movement’) of resources, but clearly pointing out what he despises - and saying ‘Stop!’
It’s an angry, sarcastic show with chirpy saturated colours and portable, ostensibly marketable wall sculptures made from the balsa and card wrapping of products like French cheese and German chocolate. Of course it is a double game too because this is a dealer exhibition with over thirty items for sale.
For Malone this display (despite its convoluted, academic title) is visually sweet, almost cute in its direct appeal to cliché - and may be a reflection of what he sees as Polish tourist kitsch. Now and then this saccharine quality is offset by some creepy bodily traces such as clipped fingernails representing crescent moons.
Despite the obsessiveness of his unrelenting didacticism this artist is clever in his sustained attack, providing many layers of symbolic imagery for fiscal processes - bean piles, abacuses, pie charts, bar graphs, casino games, fruit baskets and more. The anti-capitalist, economic issues that alarm Malone go far beyond just Poland - these images obviously have global implications - while any suspicion that he is fetishising or exoticising Polish or French merchandise is allayed by the practicalities of his domestic-sited production and these tinkered with, vibrantly coloured, scorn-saturated objects.
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