The Manic American Humanist Show, Press Release
Posted by <Abbey Pusz> on 2023-02-25
THE MANIC AMERICAN
Public Works Administration
March 10th - March 26th
CURATED by ABBEY PUSZ
THE MANIC AMERICAN HUMANIST SHOW honors work from four core contributors to Do Not Research.
This group exhibition falls just after a decade of experiments in political possibility via the internet. From the first call-to-action for an online counter-hegemony during Occupy in 2011, to the meme magic that oversaw the election of Donald Trump in 2016, to the overton window shifting projects of a “dirtbag left” that corresponded with each Bernie Sanders campaign. A new kind of politicized American citizen emerges; one of increasingly niche-ified politics. The long-tail of the internet finds an analog in the production of idiosyncratic flags, t-shirts, bumper stickers... If nothing is working, I guess I’ll take matters into my own hands.
This is parodied and contemplated in the later period of Post-Internet art. From its culture-jamming roots, it comes to shine a light on contemporary alienation as manifested in the fringe political corners of the internet. It is from this that Do Not Research as a publishing platform and community developed.
Pop is taken as a material in itself. Bundled in this impulse, and calling to mind its aesthetic sibling PC Music, is the emergent redemptive quality of popular culture. Taking first the work of Flip Kostic, Fortnite: 007 Merciful Angel, the artist leans on the conventions of blockbuster film narratives to deliver us through the otherwise schizophrenic landscape of Fortnite. Part autobiography, it is also the telling of the real-life NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, specifically Belgrade.
In one sense, the direction these artists took their interests after a relative high point in the culture-war-to-date can be read as symptomatic of a familiar cycle of optimism-turn-burn-out in left American politics. Without a window toward political possibility, the movement inward, to spiritual liberation and self-reflection, is present in the early examples of American subculture as well as the millennial politics of today. In another sense, this direction may serve as a reinvestment in art as the “daughter of freedom;” a claim to ambivalence that is enabling to the artist.
What can be said most concretely, however, is the concern of these artists to break ways with the nihilism underpinning millennial politics, which shares an impact on the art-pessimistic attitude of the contemporary fine art world. Do Not Research, when acting as institutional critique, identifies the trends in which art and curation seems to have been sold out from under itself in favor of a display of its own self-suspicion.
Where I am most inspired by these artists, as my peers, is the depth of their sympathy and emphasis on a human agency. The potential to mystify and spectacularize the postmodern moment is hemmed and reigned in by a simple truth, that the internet is all the same to where I grew up.