Alice Lang | Blowback
13 April – 9 May 2016
Blowback is a shifting state: the unforeseen consequences of an action, or the passing of weed smoke from one body into another. This new body of work by Alice Lang explores the shifting relationship between text, image, object, and body, specifically in relation to contemporary notions of value and the construction of political identities.
This work looks at the ways in which political movements and symbols materialize and shift within mass culture. Over time, meaning accumulates (and decays) within an object or symbol, like a ball of wax, or a lint roller, collecting residue. It’s not a one-way street, more back and forth, coming and going, or a ball wobbling in circles.
As slang encrypts language with a time, a place, and a body, this socio-political residue also accumulates in objects and symbols. The meaning of a word changes depending on the body that uses it; an object becomes a symbol and an image, which is imbued with past meaning. Like things jumbled together at a flea market, waiting to be cut and pasted into the collage of a domestic space, they are carriers of personal, public, and political meaning.
A smiley was initially a symbol intended to boost the morale of factory workers; it has since moved through and between various counter cultural movements and drug cultures, most recently taking form in the emoji, an interpassive hyperlink that checks out of language. The ski mask, a symbol of social disobedience, moves among specific representations of different activist groups, rebranded through colour and connotation.
This body of work seeks to explore the way in which accumulated meanings lie dormant within text, image, and objects, waiting to be uncovered, interpreted, reinterpreted, appropriated, and rebranded. Meaning floats like a ghost over time and place, occasionally grounding itself in a possessed body or a haunted object. The work manifests such hauntings, in objects that are both empty and echoing.