Multimedia statements in the face of culture
Are we seeing anything new? The chameleonlike creative force that is Awol Erizku suggests we aren’t. His processed take on cultural symbology proposes that we use and reuse the familiar to situate ourselves in the world, but to what end? Instagram likes and the stacking of ‘influence’? It might be that Erizku’s work is a form of aggregated and pointed cultural portraiture. A piece in the New York times suggests he’s pushing cultural identity, specifically blackness, away from a flat tropism (black figuration) into multidimensional areas but arguably this is a conversation between buyers and gallerists whose focus on figurative works marked a trend in collecting rather than an actual summation of cultural representation. Where are the silences, the abstruse methods, the voices against the grain? To his fans the answer is already ‘here it is!’ For others, the questioning might start with how artists like David Hammons, Tavares Strachan, Hew Locke or the ubiquitous Theaster Gates have covered similar topics and where Erizku’s vision finds its own patch of sky. Erizku has amassed an enviable cultural cache in contemporary art and tantalisingly there is a promise here that he might be turning it against itself.