Extranational

 

Spencer Longo

01.09.19 - 14.10.19

Across 25 works on paper, the basic visual elements of American patriotism are repetitively rendered in unrefined and unbroken linework, filled in by hard-edged ink color fields, building collectively to a crowd of disparate and imperfect forms, all chanting together: U-S-A!!!, U-S-A!!!, U-S-A!!!

 

The formal elements of the work, which capture the immediacy of hastily drawn protest signs, are undercut by a total absence of overt political messaging; their echoey hollowness and shallow flatness contrast with the breadth of style expressed through iteration.

 

Interspersed among the red, white and blue works are loose tribal zips and knotted gothic designs in black ink. They recall both the aggressive graphics that decorate the sides of American trucks and RVs as well as the heritage and identity signifiers found in popular tattoo culture; a formal language which saturates the visual backdrop of the West.

 

So then, what of being defined by citizenship today when living in nations shakily teetering on the edge of history? To what extent does a border, its geography, history and legal system shape how we see ourselves? Probably, in part, by how that geography, history and legal system has affected us, and maybe more so by how it hasn’t.

 

The West is having an identity crisis. The gulf between national sovereignty and the disunity of a polarized populace has created a sucking hole in the collective consciousness. As the storm rages around us, the inability to imagine “What comes next?” leaves us desperately grasping for something concrete to which we can tether ourselves. Patriotism is a vessel to be filled, needing the framework of “insiders” vs “outsiders” to hold water, and, like Narcissus, reflects an idealized self to all those who gaze upon it, no matter what angle they look from.

 

Jakob Kroon - Copyright 2019