Comic Relief



JUNE 7 – AUGUST 9, 2014

As an independent artist and as an Artist-in-Residence at Cranbrook Academy of Art, Elliott Earls has worked hard to engage issues of power, desire and commerce. His work is focused on the relationships between power, technology and media. Beginning in 1995, Earls spent the better part of ten years experimenting with a fusion of computer programming, spoken word poetry, American roots music, electronics and graphics. His laboratory and natural environment were a collection of small black box theaters in NYC’s Soho. Earls has spent the majority of his career at the threshold between contemporary art, performance and design. Through a series of monthly performance pieces at HERE the Independent Art Center, to the Wooster Group and eventually the Exit Festival at Maison des arts de Créteil in France, he developed a body of work that reflects our rapidly changing social fabric.

Kids and adults can be cruel. One would think, as we get older we actually “grow up” but in many cases our behavior is similar, only the intensity of the cruelty changes. We become more efficient, more cunning, and more brutal. Michael Scoggins’ work is an investigation, a study of the past, and why we as a society still lash out at one another as adults, why we form cliques, exclude and hurt each other as children do. He questions maturity and the importance of “being mature” in our culture.

Scoggins uses the large torn pieces of notebook paper to deceive the viewer, to lure them into a nostalgic calm. They are written and drawn from a child’s point of view, but the content is very much a focus on the adult and how little really changes. He questions society from within, expressing his opinions and experiences with growing up in American culture. A page out of a notebook, with its blue lines and spiral bound edges, is a familiar image. This is the primary vehicle used to connect with the viewer. It is enlarged to give this common object a since of importance and create a new perspective. The text and drawing placed upon the large page deal with the influences of American culture and how it has shaped my life. The paper is torn, crumpled and folded to give it a history and makes it more of an object expanding the definition of traditional drawing.

After completing three bodies of work that dealt with issues pertinent to Canadians, in 2012 Diana Thorneycroft decided to turn her focus southward, to the United States of America, and produce a suite of digital photographs that explored and exploited this wonderful, aggravating, generous and complex country.

The underlying impetus with this work is to examine the unbalanced power dynamic that exist in relationships.   Canadians and Americans (best friends forever… it’s complicated)acknowledges that, like it or not, we are best friends forever. In order to make these photographs Thorneycroft had to work within the monolith that is American culture, and at the same time, stand apart from it, critically looking in from the outside.