Diann Bauer’s second solo show for Paradise Row takes opens this weekend. For this collection of new work, Bauer has begun to use text in her work, exploring overlapping ideological elements in the extreme political right and left movements. In the past the American artist (now resident in the UK) has combined classical and contemporary imagery to create a body of work full of movement that the mind seeks to interpret.
With these new works the use of text and vivid colour adds another layer to the work using quotes, including those from a US Republican Congressman, The Una bomber and the Invisible Committee simultaneously mixing images and ideologies. We spoke to Diann to find out more.
Dazed Digital: What is the thinking behind this, your second solo show at Paradise Row?
Diann Bauer: I am interested in the proximity of the rhetoric of both the right and left, the American Tea Party and the RAF (Red Army Faction) for example. I am not looking to make a particular rally cry with this work, more that it has been a process of trying to understand where these overlaps are and what they mean. There is a climate of urgency at the moment, globally, in popular political movements. I am curious what, if any, correlations there are between the movements in the middle east, for example, in what seems to now be called the Arab spring, and the rise of the right in both Europe and America; and if there isn’t a direct correlation what sort of impact each will have on each other both in fact and in terms of the rhetoric that is used in each.
DD: And how do you feel that politics has influenced your work?
Diann Bauer: I feel my work previously has always been political though it has been much less overt. It was rarely spoken about in these terms but I feel the power and violence I represented in the previous work and the gluttonous way with which I dealt with it was a political move. My driving interest in that work, both the work that used western art history as its point of genesis and the work that used the historical Japanese prints, was about the seduction and allure of violence and for me this cannot be separated from politics. Violence is political; I realized however that the work was more often spoken about it terms of its art historical references rather than what the images were actually doing which was a problem for me. I felt the need to be more overt about what I was interested in.
DD: But there is a consistency in the work…
Diann Bauer: Formally and structurally there is a consistency; they are multiple images overlapping creating visual puzzles both for me in the making and for the viewer. The text in many ways is replacing the architectural language in the earlier work though now it adds a layer of meaning in that is legible (or at lease semi-legible). A verbal, be it sloganeering, language.
DD: This is the first time you have worked with text. Why now and do you think you will continue to use text in your work?
Diann Bauer: I will continue to use text for the immediate future but I tend to do bodies of work that last for a few years before something else comes along either by virtue of my interests changing or finding a better way to explore what I am interested in.
DD: These works appear to, collectively, have a particular message. What is the message you are conveying?
Diann Bauer: There isn’t a message as such, in a way that’s the point, or more that there are several messages in each work. I have chosen phrases that often could be espoused by either the left or the right, and in fact are quotes from both the left and the right, French anarchists, US republican congressmen, the Una bomber for example. Using this eclectic though very specific mix of verbal language along with a visual language derived from posters with very clear political messages and deliberately complicating them has allowed me to look at an overlap in the rhetoric of the left and the right and to think out what the limits of this rhetoric is. Politics is complicated why shouldn't the images that address it also be.
DD: From the images I have seen these works may have been inspired by early advertising, would you say this was true if so what was the inspiration?
Diann Bauer: I wouldn't say early advertising as much as political posters coming both out of ’68 and more recent ones. Also looking at artists like Tadanori Yokoo and Ferdinand Kriwet.
DD: How do you see the current political climate in the UK?
Diann Bauer: Ripe for change and worth railing against
Diann Bauer, New Works, Paradise Row 13/5- 18/6, All Works are Copyright Diann Bauer and Courtesy Paradise Row