October 7, 2005

Art: Thomas Hirschhorn's Camo "Utopia, Utopia"

hirschhorn_utopia.jpgICA Boston is currently hosting an installation by the Swiss artist Thomas Hirschhorn called "Utopia, Utopia." It's a sprawling overload of videos, objects, images, and texts about camouflage, and it sounds like an awesome visit. Hirschhorn constructs his works largely out of cardboard and packing tape; in this case, it sounds like the whole place--walls, furniture, floors, everything--is covered in painted camo patterns or camo tape.

Along with war and hunting, camo symbolizes "masculinity" and "a man's world," if not always in a good way. Hirschhorn covers [sic] all that and more in his piece, which is at once anti-war and pro-human (including soldiers and the rest of us).

So why do I mention this here? Read this quote from the NYT review of the show and see if you can guess:

Camouflage garments, from regulation Army uniforms to underwear, are displayed on crowded groups of store mannequins, truncated torsos and heads, along with hats, gloves and backpacks. Photographs of American soldiers in Iraq are clustered on pedestals, like family snapshots on a sidetable, as are pictures of hunters, athletes, movie stars, laborers, South American guerrillas and Sunday shoppers. Camouflage is us.

Still other surfaces display camo-patterned watches, wallets, cameras, lighters, stuffed toys, refrigerator magnets, washcloths, peace symbols, support-our-troops stickers and guns - both toy and real. Camo-tape folding screens are plastered with more images: poster-size snapshots of babies in head-to-toe camouflage, for example...

If you go, take pictures.

Hidden in Plain Sight: Unity, Cloaked in a Web of Camouflage [nyt]
"Utopia, Utopia = One World, One War, One Army, One Dress" at ICA Boston through Jan. 16 [icaboston.org]

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