An exhibition of new work by Kelley Walker closed yesterday at Capitain Petzel in Berlin. This was the New York artist’s third solo exhibition at the gallery. For this exhibition, Walker took his exploration of 1970s and 1980s advertising culture as a starting point. The works on view were invested in exploring the ways in which popular iconography is “filtered by time, reinvented, and continually recycled through private and public contexts,” a process described as a “tireless auto-cannibalization” of images in the press release. The effect is a fascinating practice that both mimics and refracts the process by which we consume, reproduce, and experience the images of popular media.
This exhibition features several large-scale works based on an advertisement for the legendary Pioneer PL-518 turntable. This advertisement, from 1973, features Andy Warhol and is essentially linked to the New York disco scene of the 1970s. This scene is echoed in another work, “Circle in Circle” from 2006, which is a disco ball covered in chocolate, thus rendering it unable to reflect and scatter light as a functional disco ball would.
Another body of work centers on the advertising campaign for Calvin Klein jeans from the early 1980’s, shot by Richard Avedon and featuring a fifteen year-old Brooke Shields. At the time of its release, in the infancy of the conservative Reagan administration, the advertisement caused a scandal that marked a turn in the ways in which visual media circulated and reflected certain social and political realities. Walker’s return to this advertisement and the scandal it caused can be seen as a commentary on the current conservative political climate today, and the way that visual culture interacts with this contemporary moment.
A third body of work consists of seven large-scale collaged screen prints from Walker’s series of “brick works.” The structure of this work is composed of scanned individual bricks arranged and printed onto canvas. The mortar for these bricks is a collage sourcing Vogue magazines from the 1980s. The work hovers between illusion and flatness, representing both a brick wall and a variation on an abstract screen.
This exhibition reflects Walker’s incisive approach to visual media and how the circulation of images affects individuals on a collective, as well as private level. By revisiting certain iconic images from the decades of the 1970s and 1980s, Walker effectively reveals how the language and impressions of print media can continue to speak long after their cultural expiration.
Exhibition Page [Capitain Petzel]