In the mid-1960s, affordable, single-use paper clothing enjoyed a burst of widespread popularity when it was introduced to an American market eager for commodities. This Disposable Paper Dress was produced by the North Carolina factory of Mars of Asheville on the occasion of the 1968 presidential election. The surname of Richard Nixon is emblazoned across the garment in red uppercase letters along with alternating blue stars, transforming its wearer into a walking endorsement of the Republican candidate whose tenure as president would encompass the first man on the moon, the withdrawal of US forces from Vietnam, and eventual impeachment and resignation.
Photographed in the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan.
Jack Shainman Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of What Goes Without Saying, Hank Willis Thomas’ third solo exhibition with the gallery. The show includes photographs, sculpture, painting and new media, all which delve into the construction of mythologies embedded in popular culture.
Known for his innovative use of advertising, the differences here is the globally ubiquitous language, he builds complex narratives about history, identity and race. This show brings together several facets of Thomas’ practice to explore objects and language, torn from their history, brought to our present, and repurposed to reveal the process of their agency.
The works in What Goes Without Saying draw from a section of Roland Barthes’ book, Mythologies, to explore the ideas of explicit and implicit representations found in objects, gestures and phrases. By separating language from the advertising in which it appears, he effectively deconstructs the relationship between the reader and viewer.
In Thomas’ new carborundum works, part of the Fair Warning series, he takes text from cigarette advertising in magazines from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, retaining the font while abandoning the accompanying visuals. The decontextualized slogans like Stronger Yet Milder, Measurably Long and Immeasurably Cool come to stand for more than just a cigarette, highlighting the adjectives used to connote power and elegance, often times with a sexual tone.
What Goes Without Saying focuses on subtext, shifting meaning and the complexity of historical actions embedded in visual culture. These ideas are important in the context of the current election and the theater of the campaigns.
Hank Willis Thomas’s What Goes Without Saying will be on Exhibit Through November 17, 2012 at Jack Shainman Gallery, Located at 513 West 20th Street, NYC. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM.