14/03/2014 > 26/04/2014
Opening on 14/03/2014, from 7 pm to 9 pm
For his second exhibition at Bugada & Cargnel gallery, NICK DARMSTAEDTER (born in 1988 in Los Angeles, lives and works in Brooklyn) takes a look at the ultra-contemporary aspect of electronic spamming through a new series of oil and silkscreen paintings. The exhibition explores the notions of readymade and reappropriation, a thread that weaves through much of the artist's work, questioning the aesthetic aspect of the most mundane contemporary productions. The title of the exhibition, Fuddruckers, is borrowed from an American fast food chain that tends to compensate for the lack of quality by quantity, just like spams. This reference immediately sets the show in an ambiguous relationship to a form of culture that is both massive and personal, despised and popular, oriented towards efficiency more than aesthetics, while possessing a certain beauty.
Electronic spamming appeared in the early 1980s, and has since burgeoned with the development of the Internet gradually invading our mailboxes on a global scale. From the very beginning, it takes the name "spam" after the Spam® food product, a salty canned meat widely consumed during World War II, because it was a practical and economical source of protein for the soldiers (the composition of which is given by the exhibition's invitation card). Thanks to a 1970 Monty Python sketch, which mocks this product as unappetizing yet ubiquitous, the name was extended to the spam message. Indeed, the invasion of the world by electronic spam is what most characterizes this phenomenon: the facility with which this scam system spreads to massive amounts of email addresses explains the persistence of these messages until today, even though their efficiency may seem questionable. A range of fantastic promises emerges from the messages, offering simple and immediate solutions to basic desires: sexuality, health , travel, money. Even if they don't systematically succeed in extorting our bank details, spam messages inevitably occupy a few seconds of our attention, an annoying presence we can't escape, costing too much to an economic system that can't afford wasting time.
For this exhibition, NICK DARMSTAEDTER shows four oil paintings that meticulously reproduce the appearance of screenshots, popup messages, and email interfaces, playing with the contrast between the very slow traditional technique of oil and the rapidity with which these elements move from screen to screen. Enhanced and magnified, retrieved from their underground existence, the "spam paintings" reveal a cartography of anonymous and unfulfilled desires. They become the portraits of an era, as portraits of ancestors were kept in other times. In comparison, the plain text of the Scam Mail series ,silkscreened directly on raw canvas, proves striking with its speedy execution. Under this new aspect, the spam messages seem to question their own raison d'être. Who still believes in their lies? Who gets caught up in their obvious traps ? How has spamming been able to survive to its own saturation ?
Paradoxically, while revealing the invalidity of spam's content, the artist transforms them into images and reveals their formal beauty. Each screenshot is chosen for its aesthetics. In this case, NICK DARMSTAEDTER has chosen simple, rudimentary designs that are already about fifteen years old - a time that the artist calls "the golden age of spam", when he first encountered them, and perhaps believed they were real on this unique occasion.
Along with this series of spam paintings, NICK DARMSTAEDTER presents sculptures that extend the theme of the trap through assemblages of disparate objects not without a hint of humor. Pickup wheels with chrome rims stuck in brightly colored security boots set on the floor like minimal sculptures. They seem stuck in their tracks, literally and in the search for aesthetic refinement. A giant game trap made out of everyday objects – a hammer, a fishing rod and a wire – embodies the notion of imminent danger and relates to the urban environment as an ecosystem, where someone's misfortune makes another person's happiness.