Macaulay Culkin – Man, Myth, Artist
Macaulay Culkin is an artist now. The plaid shirt gives it away. Le Poisson Rouge hosting it shows he is ‘high-end’. All sorts of high end stuff happen at Le Poisson Rogue. I remember seeing a Pan-European Techno band with live percussion go on in front of me as two people discussed prices for cocaine right behind me. Yeah we are talking that classy. When such conversations take place you know you are in a hip, YUPPIE-filled area.
Here Macaulay’s art feels infinitely sad to me. Obviously it is intended to be funny or have a playful sense of humor. As all the subjects have a distinct nineties pedigree I wonder what the hell Macaulay’s been doing the past decade. The pieces remind me of a man trying to re-live his childhood through various YouTube clips. I feel the name of the exhibit should be ‘borrowed nostalgia’ as that is what it celebrates. Every reference is a surrealist take on nineties culture. If the nineties ever had a nightmare about itself it may look a little like this.
Art flarf is a good name for what’s going on here. Take a pop reference from the 90s. Put it in a painting. Make it horribly bleak. It is finished. Macaulay’s work is dark in a literal use of color. Black or red is in the background of a vast majority of them. For these paintings it is nighttime. They barely get any kind of daylight. Everything is inside, indoors, late, or at an undisclosed location. What is the saddest painting is devoid of any pop culture references whatsoever. ‘A Sad, Broken Carousel’ is horribly depressing. Next to the carousel is one horse, broken off from its horse brethren. Nobody is going to fix it. This is also the only one set outside, in the daytime.
The other interesting one is the Korn concert. Macaulay names the pop culture references but fails to mention any of the more ‘high-brow’ references. Edward Munch’s ‘The Scream’ can be seen in the front, screaming his professed love for Korn. Other forms of humor can be seen as well, such as Kurt Cobain as a hacker looking remarkably similar to Julian Assange. Much of it, for all its obvious humor, appears to have a deeper sense of hurt behind them.
Next to Macaulay are two artist bro types. They probably play Mario Kart together on the weekends along with looking on YouTube for artistic inspiration. I enjoy the weirdness of this; it is a negative photograph of nostalgic culture. Glad of all people to bring Flarf into the art world it is the perennial child movie star of the early to mid-90s.