In the summer of 2011 I curated a store-front gallery exhibit for Artcite Inc.’s International Fringe Festival titled “Cool Story Bro.” The transient gallery space was located at 410 Pelissier St. in Windsor, ON.
VISUAL FRINGE is an Open, unjuried and curated off-site exhibition; mixed media site installations, interventions and performances Exciting and cutting edge contemporary art by local and international artists coming to a downtown storefront near YOU!
Fringe Performance Festivals have been entertaining audiences for over 50 years, beginning with the original festival in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1947. Over the past 20 years, the Fringe movement in Canada has grown to 18 festivals, and Canada now enjoys more Fringe Fests than any other country in the world!
Artists from Windsor and surrounding areas, including the Detroit area, exhibited their artwork in non-traditional, storefront venues. - Artcite Inc.
“Cool Story Bro.” refers to the catch-phrase that is often seen on t-shirts that are marketed to young men between 18-25 years of age and are often associated with “Bro” culture. This is a very “college” influenced culture, even though many are not in college. This culture is often associated with violence and aggression, wether through video-games, sports/fighting, or aggressive language and mannerism.
My new works in this exhibit try to examine and put into context, the kind of consumption of all kinds that is epitomized through the “Girls and Guns” fetish, which mixes gun and military culture with bikini model aesthetics that work to please the male gaze. While the women in these works take often aggressive poses and carry weapons, which in itself is empowerment, the context of the work neutralizes amy of these qualities.
Many of the works also deal with rape culture and sexual assault. The works titled “Victim Blaming T-Shirts” and the “Cool Story Bro.” Series featuring Anthony Weiner, Arnold schwarzenegger and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, all men who were involved in “sex scandals”, with some aspect of harassment and all with a vehement campaign of victim blaming.
The ”Victim Blaming T-Shirts” were also inspired by the recent cultural movement to end “slut shaming” and “victim blaming” especially through global “Slutwalks“. The shirt design was inspired by a trip to Toronto where there are many novelty item shops that sell various “saying” shirts and sweaters. Through this medium, sexism, racism and other prejudices are often reinforced through irony, though the praxis of the culture that consumes these items do not so easily appear ironic.
My hand drawn Facebook ads work to highlight the highly individualized marketing found on the internet and social media. When discussing the work, I emphasize the idea that this “Bro” culture that I focus on is in many ways constructed in order to make this group more uniform in its consumption patterns; extreme hetero-normative behaviour, hyper gender binary, a desire for “masculine” body sprays, gums, clothes, alcohol, video-games, and etc. all work to create a culture that is easier and much more efficient to market to. The fiscal advantage to “group-think” mentality, with many side effects that result in alienation and violence.