I am totally down with the title, but I can't decide if "End Times," Jill Greenberg's exhibition of hyper-glossed up photographs of wailing children is actually commenting on the apocalypse or hastening it. I know which one the artist herself thinks it is: "’ÄúI love the raw emotion of children," she says, "because it comes close to the anger and helplessness I feel about our current political and social situation.’Äù
There are SO many ways to go with this, and as a fan of artists and art who long ago decided I was working to support my art habit, my reflex is to give the artist the benefit of the doubt. Never mind that on several political issues at least, I'm sure I have at least some outrage and disagreement in line with Ms Greenberg's.
THAT SAID...Is she totally blind to the
subtext here? How it looks to equate her political/cultural worldview with that of a powerless, out-of-control, unmodulated, screaming baby? And her gallery's assertion that she's "break[ing] through to the pop mainstream and participat[ing] in a growing national dialogue"? I bet Karl Rove is clearing a place for her at the kiddie table right now.
There's no denying the compelling, uncomfortable power of her images, which only complicates things further. I an not one to reject the idea of images of wailing babies outright. In fact, I applaud it in principle as an antidote to the relentless, saccharine, twinkle-eyed baby cutesiness used to sell everything from breast pumps to tires to politicians.
But seeing these pictures as a parent, I'd rather put my kid on Wonder Showzen than let Greenberg get anywhere near her. To make her pictures, "all" Greenberg does is take a lollipop away, hardly a life-destroying experience for a 1-yo. But conceptually, I'd be more impressed with patiently observed, naturally occurring meltdowns rather than contrived ones. But then, Greenberg's nickname and website aren't The Documenter.
Jill Greenberg | Manipulator [manipulator.com via coolhunting]
"End Times" opens at Paul Kopeikin Gallery in LA on Apr. 22nd [paulkopeikingallery.com]