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william e. jones

alternative version

september 17 – november 13, 2010

via a. stradella 7

Raffaella Cortese is delighted to announce the first solo show in Milan of the American artist William E. Jones (Canton, Ohio, 1962), whose videos and photographs of 2010 – the latter commissioned for the Italian show – will be displayed.

Jonesʼ work, which has always been characterized by the study of archive material, offers an interpretation of some cross-sections of American society and episodes in recent history that have either slipped into oblivion or been purposefully forgotten. In particular, the artist wants to make us think about the control strategies implemented by those who are in socio-political power. read more

Raffaella Cortese is delighted to announce the first solo show in Milan of the American artist William E. Jones (Canton, Ohio, 1962), whose videos and photographs of 2010 – the latter commissioned for the Italian show – will be displayed.

Jonesʼ work, which has always been characterized by the study of archive material, offers an interpretation of some cross-sections of American society and episodes in recent history that have either slipped into oblivion or been purposefully forgotten. In particular, the artist wants to make us think about the control strategies implemented by those who are in socio-political power.

The exhibition will present an emblematic work from his previous film production. Tearoom (1962/2007), screened at the Whitney Biennial in 2008, is a video made by a local police force during an investigation in Mansfield, Ohio in 1962 to monitor homosexuals who met in public restrooms and were accused of sodomy. The voyeuristic manhunt using hidden cameras is a particularly poignant subject today in light of the use of technology as an instrument for control.

In the videos (The National Anthem, No Product #2 (Shower), Aggressive Child and Contraband), all produced this year, the artist accomplishes an analysis and deconstruction of the image. Thanks to a laborious technique, the films end up as unique visual creations. In fact, Jones photographs every image of the 16mm film found in the archives; once he has modified and distorted them, he reassembles the individual frames in a series of moving images. The effect is visually jarring and provocative. In No Product #2, the images of an old soap advertisement from the 70s are reworked in order to desecrate the fascination they once had and allow their hidden power to emerge. In Contraband, using stroboscopic colors like red and cyan, he shifts the moment when young marines are enlisted into the background, turning attention to the surprising list of banned objects considered contraband.

The images in the National Photo series, taken from two archives at the U.S Library of Congress (National Photo Company Collection and The Photochrom Print Collection), are skillfully overlapped and re-elaborated, bringing to life landscapes and surreal situations that give a nod to the paintings of Sigmar Polke and the California collage artist Jess Collins.

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