My decade-long engagement as a communist propagandist had convinced me of the importance of revisiting the old question of “political art,” and the linkages and gaps it opens up between the received notions of “aesthetics” and “politics.”
My work pivots from the following ideas and concerns:
Art was shamanistic in origin (under primitive communism).
The present day avant-garde is a “weak avant-garde” (see Boris Groys) detached from both the modernizing and utopian impulses of the modern avant-garde.
The solution to this weakness is a popular avant-garde that deals with the lives and concerns of the majority of the world (the working-class, the exploited and oppressed).
A viable strategy to combat the weak avant-garde is “narrative conceptualism;” putting the stories of working-class people up front in experimental artwork.
The following artworks and artist statements are from Red Wedge #4; previously not posted to our site.
These pastiche posters portray the victories and transformations of cat-kind following a revolution that has overthrown all relations in which cat is a depraved, enslaved, abandoned or despised being. These repurposed propaganda posters attempt to capture the aesthetic energy and radical, transformative hope of the 20th century revolutions while criticizing the social order that they both replaced and created. The works attempt not to rewrite or document history but rather to create hopeful images of a world in which creatures have escaped the logic of history and point toward a real-possible future.
These illuminated poems appeared in Red Wedge #6, “In Defense of Transgression.”
Artists today are also caught in the Neo-Liberal expectations of competitive self-promotion, which generally exclude the disabled, economically-disadvantaged, lower-classes, aging, female, gender and/or identity non-conforming. The expected commodification of an artist's work and life is profoundly alienating to anyone who doesn't fit, into either mainstream society or mainstream artists' societies. But there have to be spaces for all art; as there has to be a place at the table for all peoples, or it is no longer art (but an extension of imperialism).
These compositions are the latest in a growing body of work exploring connections between humans and nature in contemporary society. I work part time in the shipping department of a small company, and witness a surprisingly large amount of paper waste. As an artist, and avid environmentalist, I couldn’t bring myself to throw away the paper left behind from generating shipping labels. This paper contains a waxy coating, allowing the sticky label to be removed easily while preventing easy recycling. These mixed media works consist of photographs printed on those label backings.
My paintings are figments of fantastical imaginary worlds situated within realms, which allude to our own existence. The imagery I use comprises unravelling narratives, which display splayed visions and altered expressions of the world around us. Themes stemming from theological backgrounds have direct imagery taken from the Book of Genesis and the Book of Revelations.
I attempt to create a new space and time within the painting, asking the audience to question what they see and from where they are seeing it.
The following is an artist talk by Red Wedge's Adam Turl at the opening of his exhibition, The Barista Who Disappeared, at Artspace 304 on June 1, 2018 in the artist's home town of Carbondale, Illinois. This exhibition marks the last (for now) iteration of Turl's two-year project, The Barista Who Could See the Future, about a coffee shop worker and artist living in Southern Illinois who believes he has visions of the future. The city of Carbondale is facing a crisis as budget cuts and inflationary tuition hikes are undermining Southern Illinois University (the city's main employer) with the active hostility of the university's board.
The installation Long Live the New! Morris & Co. Hand Printed Wallpapers and K. Malevich’s Suprematism, Thirty Four Drawings, including covers, addendum and afterword is made from a combination of two books: a Morris & Co. wood block printed wallpaper pattern book from the 1970s containing 45 sample wallpaper designs by William Morris, the 19th Century English wallpaper, textile and book designer, poet, novelist and Communist; and the Russian artist and pioneer of abstraction Kazimir Malevich’s Suprematism, Thirty Four Drawings, published in 1920.