The installation If We Can’t Play, I Don’t Wanna Be Part Of Your Revolution was my contribution to Tricia Van Eck’s Bling Bling show –a visual extravaganza conceived as 6018 North’s presence at Expo Chicago 2014.
In the press release for the show, Tricia van Eck writes:
From kings to popes to hip hop rappers, bling has transfixed our eyes and captured our imagination. Bling Bling examines optical excess, pairs it with protest and glamou, and presents a social experience of luxury. Replete with a faded Louis XIV garden, a glitter and glam disco that pumps protest songs, a series of performances and a group exhibition loaded with optical excess, Bling Bling offers a sensorial space that highlights art’s connection to spectacle, self expression and luxury. Bling Bling is an exhibition, a disco, a therapeutic space and a democratic VIP room.
If you don’t have your bling on, we’ll dress you in Nelly Agassi’s golden t-shirts and Christine Harrison Frei’s Dressed Up to the Nines dress up photo studio.
In response to Tricia’s request to rethinking luxury democratically, I revisited my work Chronic Youth from 2010, and infused it with some more recent glitter works to create If We Can’t Play, I Don’t Wanna Be Part Of Your Revolution! (Chronic Youth Remix) . The installation, which reads as the school disco we all wish we had had, posits the idea of youth as being the luxury we all get to indulge it at some point, only to covet it for the rest of our lives. As Tricia describes it:
This glam “soda disco” is for both adults and children. The series of larger-than-life portraits depict children play-acting role models from the archetypical –Prince Charming and the Statue of Liberty –to contemporary rebel rock stars including Lady Gaga and David Bowie. These role models also resonate with adults’ idolization and exploitation of youth as a luxury coveted in popular media.
The glittery portraits were set off by pop lyrics, expressing an often ambiguous relationship between youth, rebellion and consumer culture, such as this one by T Rex:
The space came alive to the thumping beat of DJ Sadie Woods’ setlist of protest songs. As Tricia describes it:
The music presented here is a compilation of songs from various humanitarian, activist, and social movements. Reworked and decontextualized, the songs are an exercise in dance floor politics, highlighting how disco, club culture, and the contemporary landscape of activism and mass mobilization is easily commodified by popular culture’s desire for entertainment and spectacle.