So, I see this work is making its works around the internet. And, while I was already going to blog about it myself after seeing it the first time (because it is a really striking piece), after seeing many posts about this particular self-portrait that don’t touch on the artist, her work, or this piece in relation to her work, I think I should probably spend a bit of time asking whether it’s OK or even helpful to have this picture being linked without any context or background in the rest of McMahon’s work.
First off, “Connect” here is a nice, striking piece. It’s colorful, and interesting, and distractingly sensual. But, I think it’s also a misleading way to represent McMahon, judging by the rest of her online portfolio. It’s not so much that it’s unique in her portfolio, she’s rather eclectic as is, so much as it’s got a rather more commercial, glossy production and message to it than most of her pieces. It’s not… subversive enough.
In an effort to pretend I’m not just making this all up, how about some examples? Come on, it’s the internet people, I know you like pictures.
So, pictures it is. Let’s start with “Virtual Squirrel,” which seems to exist here as a partial concept. Already, without even showing you a bigger shot or her statement on it, you can tell that there’s a bit more obviously going on in this. If you hop over to her site, you can see the monitors are all watching the tree, a la CCTV security systems. And that statement? Here’s part of it:
“The project is conceived as an immersive installation that visually and conceptually illustrates our diversion and separation from nature as we delve deeper into the technological realm. The experience will convey the idea that nature is becoming a spectacle versus being an intrinsic part of our environment, that nature’s presence is more novelty than norm. The installation will include sculptural elements and imagery that juxtapose organic natural forms and mechanized technology, highlighting the detachment many humans feel as a result of existing in a linear built world that is intrinsically different from our natural environment. The project is intended to express an underlying environmental theme while visually conveying the complex, delicate balance that exists in both our natural and technological worlds.”
All the stiff and formal art-speak aside (and, I do so detest art-speak, as you might have guessed by now), that’s some interesting and deep stuff there. Multi-faceted, and a bit surreal.
And, speak of surreal, how about the “Psycho Girlfriend” fashion line McMahon does in collaboration with Vanessa Bonet? Did you expect this skirt over here when looking at “Connect”? No? Neither did I, don’t worry.
So, don’t get me wrong, I rather like a lot of McMahon’s portfolio. She’s a bit out there, and a little subversive, and rather odd, and she has Ideas, and I love all that. But, do I think it’s bad to pass around a single work of art from an artist when it’s so divergent from the rest of their body, or at least so unrepresentative? Yeah, I do. It’s a neat piece, and I’m glad it went around and that she’s getting the attention. It certainly lead me to her. Do I think it’s a bit of bad journalism (again, on the internet? Bad journalism? Noooooo way!)? Yeah, yeah I do.