Saturday, April 29, 2006

Thesis Proposal: Identity Integrity and Consumerism

"Nothing is more deceitful than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast." -Jane Austen

"Congratulate yourselves if you have done something strange and extravagant and broken the monotony of a decorous age."- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"No one gives you freedom, you have to take it."- Meret Oppenhiem

Consumerism and personal identity and integrity are divergent states. Using materials and a personal environment as metaphor, this assertion will result in an installation that explores the juxtaposition and contradiction of personal identity, integrity and consumerism.

Consumerism is the practice of equating personal happiness and identity with the purchase of material possessions and consumption. Somewhere in the process of that pursuit of happiness, many of us have lost our way and allowed our very sense of self to be defined by our purchases, and by extension, advertisers and marketers. Collectively, we have traded our personal identities for labels. These labels run the gamut from sassy to Versace. Our cars, our clothing, signify how smart, sexy, vibrant and successful we are.

By contrasting certain materials, the finite versus the recyclable, the work will examine the various ways in which we as individuals and as a society settle for the manufactured identity over the natural. Such an idea rests upon the supposition that, like a seed, each of us contains a sense of self that is most natural to us and that in turn is our integrity. Indeed, seeds will signify the self, much as polymers represent the manufactured and disposable consumable. The work will contend that this pursuit of identity through consumerism comes at a steep price to our health, personal self esteem as well as our relationships and environment. Planned materials include, but are not limited to, found objects, paper, seeds, ceramics, natural media, polymer clay, beads, wood, threads, and fabrics, both manufactured and hand made.

The objects, the installation, will consist of a personal sitting room containing such objects, but not limited to, a chair, a rug, books, a lamp, artworks, doors, tables and clothing. On each end of the Hatfield Gallery the same room will be constructed, each consisting of similar objects of contrasting materials. The resulting contradiction is a complex social critique. As such it will be as derisive, satirical, and critical as it will be poignant, endearing and humorous. Anything less than this complexity would be guilty of the same kind of reductive organization found in advertising and marketing.

Artists that influence the work are Andrea Zittel, Elizabeth Lundberg Morisette, Richard Hamilton, Andy Goldsworthy, Mel Chin, Sandy Skoglund, Miriam Shapiro, Judy Chicago, Eva Hesse, Hanna Wilke, Jessica Stockholder, Marcel Duchamp, Jeff Koons, Janine Antoni, Meret Oppenheim, Charles Drury, Ann Hamilton, Kiki Smith and Mark Lander.

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