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Doug Fishbone

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Still from Ugly American
Still from Ugly American
Until recently, my work involved itself mostly with impermanent materials and processes. My most ambitious project was an installation using enormous quantities of bananas – at times as many as 40,000 of them - which I pile up in public places and then give away free of charge. I have done this project, which deals with themes of globalization, violence and consumerism, on five separate occasions in the US (in New York), Ecuador, Costa Rica and Poland. In another much smaller work, I made a classical self-portrait out of gyro meat, rotating on a cooking machine in the middle of the gallery, which touched upon issues of death and decay, artistic vanity and notions of tradition and scandal in today’s gimmick-oriented art climate.
20,000 Bananas, 2002
20,000 Bananas, 2002
And for a performance piece this past summer, I hired a young Arab American male actor to sit inexpressively in a cage during an opening in a museum, while the audience milled around drinking wine and enjoying themselves. These works were all created for particular exhibitions, and lasted only as long as they were shown, generally several hours. (The actual gyro meat head still exists, though, slumbering cryogenically in my mother’s freezer).
Still from Footprints
Still from Footprints
Performance with an Arab
Performance with an Arab
Kebab Man
Kebab Man
slumbering cryogenically in my mother’s freezer).My recent work has focused on the creation of more lasting objects that mine similar terrain, and question the role and meaning of art in consumer capitalist society. These concerns have led me to develop my own logo, and to use it as a branding device – a cynical form of signature - for many of these artistic objects. In my most current work, the video piece entitled The Ugly American, I am investigating the language of the mass media to critique some of the more problematic aspects of our culture – greed, violence, pornography and indifference - by using its own delivery of imagery as the basis for the work. All of the images in the video, with the exception of only a handful, were downloaded straight off of the internet, and the video turns the vulgarity of our society’s freely available visual information back on itself. On a more formal note, I am interested in examining the use of still images in a video context, and in creating a hybrid form of narrative that rests, like some works by Chris Marker, in between the traditional territories of film and photography. This video work is my primary area of operation at the moment.
Central to all of my work, and maybe its most important aspect, is a heavy reliance on humor. Whether co-opting the strategies of stand-up comedy, as I do in The Ugly American, making posters out of Yiddish proverbs, or constructing ridiculous corporate-style rubbish like logo watches, I invite the viewer to consider some of the more unseemly aspects of modern living in an amusing and disarming way.
Thing in Itself
Thing in Itself
It is my personal feeling that much conceptual-oriented art is dry and uncompelling to experience, and this is a quality I am eager to avoid in my own practice. My work has recently been in BECK'S FUTURES, Student Film and Video Prize Shortlist Exhibition, April 2004.
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