A review of OKAY MOUNTAIN’s “LONG PLAYS” at Mark Moore Gallery, Los Angeles 2013
A BIG CONCRETE CLOWN HEAD. Mouth agape, tongue spilling out onto an astroturfed lawn. A crumbling relic. Krusty’s kid brother.
This is what we enter into.
The putting green is littered with cigarette butts and beer cans, while amateur graffiti and petty vandalism designate adolescent rebellion at its finest. School Night stages the aftermath of an illicit late night game of Crazy Golf and is the spatially dominant centerpiece of Texan collective OKAY MOUNTAIN’S first Los Angeles solo exhibition at Mark Moore Gallery.
While robust in stature, this sculptural install shrinks effectually when read in simultaneity with the rest of the works in the show, whose uniform commentary pays homage to the ubiquitous content of contemporary consumer culture. This line sounds generic, but OKAY MOUNTAIN do it different.
Their shared artworks offer a unique perspective on a Western reverence for commerce, manifested in objects and performances that parody the conventions of a national identity born out of a relentless desire for immediacy and accumulation. Playing with pop graphics and extreme styling, OKAY MOUNTAIN emphasize the mark of the artist’s hand; their works are scrappy, superlative, and wildly colorful, invariably leavened by a fiercely dark sense of humor, unflinching shrewdness and larger-than-life Texan spirit.
Stepping inside of the gallery, pop-punk blares from a boom box, provocatively complimenting the looped series of faux infomercials. Hilariously ridiculous, they are also scathingly candid. Encouraging us to ‘BUY A TRASH BAG OF DELICIOUS POPCORN FOR THE SHOW’, the salacious reel of absurd advertisements and intermission entertainment pokes a serious stick in the side of all of us who can admit to a tendency of insatiable wanting. The piece activates a collective guilt, blithely mocking us for falling into such well marked traps.
Roadside Attractions is a participatory installation consisting of 100 roadside tourist attraction brochures, each one designed by the members of the collective. The printed matter ranges from sheer insanity to the definitely possibly possible, given the oft’ bizarre nature of real life, money-making roadie landmarks. Graphically, they mimic the discordant imagery and incongruous information found in a typical visiting center brochure rack, a place where do-it-yourself and professional design are forced to cohabit. Gallery goers are encouraged to access, select and share the displayed material.
On the left most wall, a series of framed photographic prints chronicling a variety of DIY products born from harebrained invention critique the strategies of catalogue photography. With saturated lighting and a seductive iridescence, the tools are presented as pure objects of desire, fetishized and alluring but ultimately flawed in their utility.
Other highlights include a shrewd comment on ludicrous corporate procedure, exemplified by nonsensical instructions scrawled across a whiteboard to imitate the brain-storm sessions of a start-up company which ultimately achieve nothing and lead nowhere, and a bookshelf filled with “How-To” titles like ‘HOW TO MAKE YOUR IPHONE CALL COUNT’ and ‘HOW TO PARTY BY FAINTING’, playing on our undefined yearning for perfection and abstract fulfillment.
Through calculated exaggeration and espousal of the absurd, OKAY MOUNTAIN creates farcical caricatures of a very present moment in contemporary culture.
Downloadable PDF at http://www.markmooregallery.com/exhibitions/2013-02-16_okay-mountain/.