IMN #9 — Miss AL Simpson
Monday Night #9
Tonight, let’s share thoughts about @missalsimpson’s work: the digital painter who has perphaps come closest to stacking or rather thickening color surfaces - but I am talking about the thickness of a crumbling city wall or a fraying piece of fabric.
For this is the nature of digital painting technique which is, by definition, immaterial: it is the art of the painters to virtually invent the concrete support on which they are painting a figure.
There is still something paradoxical in this way of tending, by its "brushstroke", to a materialization of textures and materials.
But there is also a mad assumption in this choice: the pixel could be come a physical reality, subject to a process of deterioration like any part of the urban furniture. @missalsimpson's pixels are rough and raw. They carry a wild erudition which does not quote its sources.
Its sources are the texts written by a conflicting multitude on the body of a virtual city: those who stick the posters and those who tear them down, those who write on the walls and those who scratch the writings, those who scratch and those who add new layers.
Her work is both pastiche and palimpsest - with a touch of self-parody. Between pastiche and palimpsest, there is only one step, but she refuses to decide and remains obstinately between the two.
In any case, it is writing that is printed on writing: signs covering other signs without leading to any authenticated signature. She tries not so much to decipher what is written under the erasures as the erasures themselves.
The basic unit of @missalsimpson's painting might be the skin of an urban utopia - more precisely, the flaps. It is scratches and scars that she stages, not without distance and irony.
There is ordinary beauty in @missalsimpson's work, even if it is necessary to make it emerge by scarifying stereotypes without disconstructing them completely.
Actually, her paintings operates in an area of indistinction between the profane and the sacred. In fact, it operates 𝘰𝘯 this area - in a more refined way than it seems at first sight.
But it is not a question of de-sacralizing again and again in an era that has made de-sacralization its little post-modern business. It is rather to open a sort of anthropological observatory.
In this gallery of bodies and postures, we have the leisure to study human behaviors from all angles, their looks, customs, clothes, haircuts, make-up, etc.
In short, @missalsimpson gives us access to all the ways that women - as a beast of style - have to reveal herself while masking herself, to resist social norms while performing or appropriating them. A pure meditation on both social body and bodies in society.
Women faces of @missalsimpson's pieces are profoundly distant, serene, cold, in an environment yet saturated with noise & symbols - they play off artificial placidity of magazine fashion icons to suspend their grotesque effects of seduction while saving desire vibrations.
There is a film - The Pervert's Guide to Ideology - in which Zizek analyzes at length a dud movie called They Live: a guy finds a box of glasses on the streets of LA and realizes that with them he can read ideological messages hidden on front pages of newspapers, billboards, etc.
This is a Hollywood masterpiece of the most stupid and rigorous conspiracy. And so the idea is that the glasses function as a decoding key that allows us to see behind social signs their true dirty essence: obscene commandments.
Why am I talking about this? Well, because I find it interesting that @missalsimpson juxtaposes, in her approach to social signs, the ideological veneer (the official imagery of the consumer society) and the aggressive signals of money, sex and enjoyment.
In a word, the code and the decoding are inscribed in the same visual space, glued together, which contributes to both the denudation of ideology and the eroticization of this denudation.
Historically, @missalsimpson's plastic research places us at the stage after They Live: a world where everyone seems to wear those glasses or put them back on the table at will.
There is no puzzle to solve or myth to denounce: things are out in the open and any moral or moralistic position seems compromised in advance. Or irrelevant.
@missalsimpson seeks an aesthetic strategy that acknowledges that the critique of ideology is no longer truly liberating - the ideal of liberation through critique, like the ideal of liberation through dreams, has been absorbed by ideology.
You can tell people that money is their God or that their life has become a commodity, they will still believe. Or they will laugh in your face. Or they won't give a damn.
Ideology continues to function within its indictment: her digital paintings are a way of making this aporia palpable without pretending to resolve it. Indicate that there is a path and then blur the lines. As only proper art can do. She does so with a fierce and contagious joy.