Thursday 22 November 2012

Losing Face: George Morton-Clark

We are all victims of rape. 

Whether crucified for our religion, race – our mental proficiency or our physical imperfections – we all suffer under the gauntlet of a normative, mediatised culture where happiness is defined in terms of exclusion and status. To quote the artist George Morton-Clark,

Society has evolved a paranoid state of mind because of our ever-tightening freedoms.

In less polite words, a violence is perpetrated against all of us; our freedom violated every day as we find ourselves choking defencelessly on the fumes of advertiser bullshit, corrupting our nervous system and rewiring it to produce a deformed image of how we should look in the frame of a 21st century society. 

With Morton-Clark, I imagine witnessing a hysterical obliteration of the human form, like a timebomb has finally detonated under the searing schizophrenic pressures we bear in our day-to-day existence. What we have left are disconnected, discarded remnants of being – unintelligible and uncoordinated elements that no longer offer real meaning. The human figure has been aggressively deconstructed and reconstructed into an attractive mess of nothingness and absurdity - and yet these works deliver such wholesome truths.

His female subjects thus provide a metaphor for the products and objectified images of reality that deserve to be ruined and mutilated. There's an interesting, homophonic collision between 'porn' and 'pawn' here: we are essentially all puppets that have been duped, manipulated, misguided; quite simply lied to in a pornographic culture where women, amongst many other things, are packaged into salacious commodities which promise everything but deliver nothing. 

To violate our freedom is perhaps one of the most serious crimes against our humanity. Morton-Clark reacts with work which is highly evocative and emotional. We have been cruelly tamed into a way of thinking, and the only way to reacquire freedom is to bite back with all we have left: savage revenge; degenerate, animalistic anarchy in the face of misplaced glossy Chanel logos.  Our only hope is to rape the system that has raped humanity.

We are immersed in a world of sin, a limitless hell on earth where anything goes, like a society that has been necessarily reset to its raw default settings. All barriers are broken; we have faceless pigs looming over equally faceless and maimed women, portraits of women gagging on the artist's most graphic tint of vermilion. This is not the glorification of human mutilation. It is the necessary destruction of those illusions of beauty churned out by a consumer monster that are anything but attainable.

But what's even more unsettling here is the almost cartoonish feel to the mutilation, like an old episode from the Itchy & Scratchy Show - you laugh but you do so with a seed of discomfort, no matter how hilarious the antics. It's as if these paintings have been unconsciously created by a child who’s discovered Crayola for the first time and has proceeded to make an uncensored mess. Of course, it's a well-thought out and beautifully crafted mess by Mr. M-C, but the aesthetic nonetheless - and rather brilliantly - hints at a disturbing landscape for the future generations.

The innocence (dare I say cuteness) conjured by this way of working is of course undercut with the artist's aggressive mark-making. Through his raw use of collaging, the faces of his subjects often tend to have smiles plastered onto them, a nice touch which inevitably echoes our own indoctrination in a society which conditions us to act against our will and instincts. Elsewhere, GMC's faces are scratched out, destroyed - or his heads missing entirely.  We lose face, quite literally.

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