Drawing inspiration from the relationship between seemingly disparate cult figures, personalities whose existence is expanded into narrative, the works on show aim to confront the reality of fame. To consider something capable of stripping personhood from those within it. The idea that in order for a story to be understood by many people, it must be stripped of nuance and reduced to symbols.
The idea that someone like Jeffrey Dahmer has come to symbolise evil, the subject of countless books and documentaries as a monster is challenged – instead, the lens is turned on the societies to which these figures belong, our consistent refusal to provide social care resulting in suffering redistributed as a scary bedtime story. As with most things, the reality is less entertaining and ultimately more complex, speaking to notions of social responsibility and support for the vulnerable.
“You know those bumper stickers that say ‘shit happens and then you die’? Well, it should say shit happens and then you live because that’s really the truth of it.”—Anna Nicole Smith
The work on show explores the nature of narrative in a world where the distinction between real and unreal is increasingly blurred. We have an unchecked desire to find stories in situations, to follow the lead of for-profit news outlets and an increasing acceptance of narrativised reality. Over the past thirty years, we have normalised the notion that there is no distinction between entertainment and real life – something responsible for an increasingly dehumanised perspective on other people, particularly those prominent in the media.
He Will Always Be My Son aims to expose the nature of our fascination – what it means to slow down to see a car crash. The artists view the exhibition as an opportunity to look inside ourselves, at what it means to reduce a person to a vehicle for amusement, the way that this strips them of themselves and the suffering inherent in living in character.
HE WILL ALWAYS BE MY SON https://villagebooks.co/blogs/blog/he-will-always-be-my-son – 14th January 2021 The exhibition is accompanied by a text from Maggie Dunlap, entitled American Trauma Holiday.