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Dexter Dalwood

Dexter Dalwood

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Published by temporarysite_org
Dexter Dalwood
originally published in 'This much is certain', Royal College of Art, edited by Claire Bishop, London, 2004. ISBN 1874175624
Dexter Dalwood
originally published in 'This much is certain', Royal College of Art, edited by Claire Bishop, London, 2004. ISBN 1874175624

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Published by: temporarysite_org on Sep 14, 2011
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09/21/2011

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1974
 A hotel room in Philadelphia. A
mesmeric aracter is seated ona pastel aise longue. He poursover some handwrien lyrics. Hispale, iselled eekbones exudeextreme elegance. A sculpted shirt
with pointed collars enhances his
actions as he takes a pair of scis
-
sors to the text. Snipping random
-
ly, the lyrics disintegrate. ey fallinto a heap of language. Pluingarbitrary fragments from the pile,our writer begins over. We watas a new song is wrien. Words,phrases, syntax and meter arefreed to forge new associations.
T
he documentary we arewating reveals DavidBowie moving restlesslyfrom one creative ap
-
proa and persona to another.‘Craed Actor’ traces Bowie inanother stage of development.Ziggy has ed. Aladdin Sane isdead. is is the in White Duke.At times Bowie is condent in
his artistic vision, at other times
he talks in solemn riddles. Bowiewrites his lyrics using Burroughs-inspired ‘cut-ups’. e camera letsus commune with a moment of construction. It gives us a ba
-
stage pass. Hotel room. Greenroom. Sigma Sound Studio. Wewitness before the event. Beforethe stage show.
L
ooking at Dexter Dal
-
wood’s collages we areprivy to the scene where
intrinsic decisions are made
and planned. Before painting. eyare modest sites where elusivelocations are constructed. Inti
-
mate connections are red fromprinted maer and art historicalreproductions. ey combine, as if,to produce stills from a twentiethcentury historical movie. We knowthe plot. We know the cast. Gor
-
baev. Brian Jones. Miael Ja
-
son. Sharon Tate. Do we know theset and location? Dalwood scoutsthese locations from our collectiveimagination. Fuelled from biogra
-
phy and the speculation of popular
1
Dexter Dalwood Alun Rowlands
Dexter
 
Dalwood
 
Originally published in
Tis mu is certain 
by the Royal College of Art,edited by Claire Bishop, London, 2004. ISBN 1874175624
 
mythology, he details spaces setfor potential drama. But, unlikeBowie in ‘Craed Actor’, our mainprotagonists are absent. ey havestepped out. ey are o set. Weare le to project our imaginationinto the assemblage of metonymicaccoutrements. Props drawn froma myriad of sources collide in afastidious montage. e resultingcollages initiate the details of lode
-
stone images, like single framesfrom our movie. Dalwood is seatedsplicing and cuing from the reel-to-reel of history. e collages hecreates are single image cells priorto their projection onto the bigscreen of painting.
W
e are behind thewheel, cruising thefreeway towards
downtown L.A.
ere is something disconcert
-
ingly familiar here. We get thetitle. ‘White Bronco’ (2001). We areO.J. Simpson mid-ight. Che themirror. A helicopter hovers. Newscorporations tra our escape.eir dramatic birds-eye view of the freeway is the one we reallyremember. Dalwood wiily pastesus front seat. We become complicitwith the scene of the crime. erear-view mirror reinforces thiswide-screen experience. e sunis seing behind us but ahead isonly blue sky. e drama is toldthrough multiple voices. As the el
-
ements of the collage snap togetherwe shi in time. Ahead, Los Ange
-les appears as a two dimensional
mirage. Behind, Ed Rusa’s iconicHollywood sign recedes. Are weeeing art history or do the objects
in the rear-view mirror appear
closer than they are?
T
his cut and paste episoderecalls early cinematog
-
raphy and montage. Herethe jump cut and freeze-frame fold into traditional ideas of collage. Visual impressions succeedone another. ey overlap in astring of shots. Time becomes sol
-
vent. Collage guarantees contem
-
poraneity. It is rooted in a modern
-
ist strategy for bringing the actualinto art. It ties art to the moment.In Dalwood’s hands it ties second
Dexter Dalwood Alun Rowlands
2
order material to fragments of history. Like the classic Hollywoodclié of falling calendar pages,spinning clos and newspaperheadlines, Dalwood forges a roll
-
ing dialogue between the past andthe present. is allows us to con
-
sider the glasnost of ‘Gorbaev’sWinter Retreat’ (2000) through thelenses of Cezanne and hard-edgedabstraction, in a visual perestroika.An apercu of the collaged imagereveals the haunted autonomy of the fragment. Spliced magazinepages are displaced to act as otherspaces. e parts retain a measureof their strangeness. But then thisis useful when articulating a worldthat is not exactly reassuring andbecoming stranger.
D
alwood’s promiscuousintermingling of signs
allows an adolescent
moment of freedomto imagine. ‘Neverland (Miael Jason’s Bedroom)’ (1999) is thePrince of Pop’s private domain.Fame and power coalesce in ba
-
roque camp. A so-toy innocenceis implied amidst the opulencewe associate with MTV’s ‘Cribs’.Domesticity is hot. Perhaps it is avalidation of the American dream.But beware. Our tabloid press hassensationally wrien the scriptfor this stage. Slumber parties and
3
Dexter Dalwood Alun Rowlands
sleepovers have dragged the pri
-
vacy of this haven into litigationand the public courts.
C
elebrity is a currentobsession. Fan bases areswelling. Images and per
-
sonas are projected intoour social consciousness. Empathyis laced with nefarious desire.Celebrity worship syndrome, ormad icon disease, is a recognisedpsyological condition. Mediafractures identity. e language of the fanzine is oen quasi-religious.It is all ritual and worship. econgregation communes in frontof their televisions. e secondcoming will be peak-time viewing.
S
eventy-seven acres of Texanfarmland dominated the24-hour news annels in1993. We wated from theperimeter as the Bran David
-
ian ran was held under siege.In ‘Mount Carmel, Waco’ (2000)Dalwood takes us inside. eserene interior eoes Matisse’sDominican apel in Vence. Autilitarian hardwood altar sits inits own fractured space. e cutedges of the printed componentsssure, suggesting an impendingimplosion. e ceiling fan warnsus that things are about to hot up.Outside this enclave the cloudsgather. Dalwood has replaced theranks of the ATF forces and lm
crews with a pastoral landscape
that evokes Andrew Wyeth. isshi in our frame of reference isa subtle one. Art history providesthe badrop. e armed forces aresubstituted by a representation of nature as a moral force. Wyeth’spioneering scenes identify with na
-
tionalism, transcendental populismand rehearsed seled values. esereferences bu-up against theassembled belief system depictedinside Mount Carmel.
D
avid Koresh, who
anged his name fromVernon Howell to en
-
hance his image as a leadguitarist, constructed his visionfrom a variety of Biblical sourcesthat he put into practice in Waco.Text. Interpretation. Context. escript was already wrien. eprecise context and interpretationwere variable. e vagaries of translation aptly reside within theseams of Dalwood’s collages.
I
magine Ulrike Meinhof seatedat her desk. Reading CheGuevara’s ‘Guerilla Warfare’.e hip Baader-Meinhof gangtranslated the guerrilla theoriesof Guevara and Marighella intotheir West German context. eyconverted a manual for warfare inone of the world’s poorest coun
-
tries into a manual warfare inone of the riest. A lot was lostin translation. In ‘Ulrike Mein
-
hof’s Bed-sit’ (2000) and ‘CheGuevara’s Mountain Hideaway’(1999) Dalwood reveals clandestinespaces fomenting revolutionaryzeal. A hessian bivouac is swilyassembled through jarring cut-up

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