Robinson, NadineBorn 1968, England
Lives in New York
IN THE GALLERY
Americana, Version Two, 2008
New work, commissioned by Parsons for "OURS"
"Americana, Version Two," is a sound sculpture created for the Kellen Gallery and consisting of two speaker-stacks facing each other, each bearing a logo with the American flag. The speakers play historic and present-day samples of American political speeches, however, the artist has replaced moments of applause with stock recordings of laughter. This slapstick-like gesture expresses Robinson’s deep mistrust of democracy’s power to bring about justice and real change. It is her conviction that the “little improvements” that democratic politics offer are merely cosmetic, distractions from deep, long-term injustice that displace the desire for real change.
This critique of mild-mannered hope for progress, the better future that is so central to the democratic process, is reflected in the visual aspects of this work as well. The perfect geometric shapes of the black speakers built into the white cube of the gallery allude to the sites of Modernist art and African-American urban “sub-cultures.” Robinson confronts two sets of aesthetic codes as markers of social difference, and at the same time conflates them into a hybrid object of displaced desire, pointing out that in their respective cultures they both signify taste and status.