Communism offers us a vision of personal poverty and social luxury. A good idea when one considers the mess we are in. But in order for this to be achieved capitalists have to be devoured, like those leisurely swimmers in Steven Spielberg’s 1975 Jaws. In the film, the role played by the eponymous great white, or white death, is that of a socialist. Lurking beneath the surface of the water it feasts on American capitalists, and all sharks know they make the tastiest snacks!
But what is the sea? Metaphorically speaking it represents the depths of our unconsciousness, where Freud located the oceanic feeling. This void, a vestige of childish pasts deep within each one of us, is full of unknowable fears and doubts that we try to quell in an endless quest of accumulation. “We have”, as Žižek puts it, “a laundry list of fears” constantly breaking on the shores of our minds, threatening to drown us is the poisoned waters of our own making. The four shark heads in the Giclée print Socialism (2017) converge in the center of this oceanic void. Their gaping jaws rush to fill the emptiness at the core of the viewer’s gaze. Yet this space, within the mysterious expanse, is actually the terror of our own selves. These beasts threaten not only to consume our bodies, but also our all too human feelings.
Protruding into the gallery, Dan Mitchell’s painted art object The Great Flood (2017) is like a wall. Not the Berlin wall of Kippenberger and his pals, but an older wall, one erected to defend us against the tide of nature’s filth, decay and death. This painting – even one that literally turns a corner! – has all the ingredients of a soap opera that mirrors our own lives, reflecting the swirling mass of emotions nowadays reduced to the emoticon. Half a millennia later we are still swept up in the depiction of ambivalence and eroticism in original emojist Bronzino’s An Allegory with Venus and Cupid. His era was that of a nonstop soap opera, but one without any detergent.
ULTRA MEGA HYPE is the end of the idea of accumulation. It is pointless, yet we don’t want it to stop. We are still too attached to private wealth and what we really want is a nice way of accumulating but what we fail to understand is that this is unattainable, and like the planet’s resources, ultimately finite. There just isn’t enough space, unless one sinks to the ocean floor, where there’s plenty of room at the bottom…
Dan Mitchell is based in London, UK. Recent exhibitions include Sports, 3236RLS, Catford, UK (2017); New Dead City, Oracle, Berlin, Germany (2016), and Alcoholism, Celine, Glasgow, Scotland (2016). He is currently included in the group show Theft Is Vision at LUMA Westbau, Zurich, Switzerland. Mitchell is also the publisher of Hard Mag, and co-founder of the Artist Self-Publishing Fair (ASP).
Installation by Saim Demircan, Ida Michel, and Dan Mitchell
Text by Saim Demircan and Dan Mitchell
Graphic design by Ida Michel
Exhibition photography by Yair Oelbaum
Curated by Saim Demircan
Assistant: Ida Michel
Gallery Assistants: Amelie Meyer and Hiji Nam
The exhibition opens on Sunday, November 26, 6-8pm