Sunday, July 31, 2011

Signs of the Times

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but when a work of art so completely resembles something that it also seeks to undermine, a shiver of pleasure runs up my spine. Example: about a year ago, I saw a spiral-bound notebook for sale on a book stall near West 4th Street. On closer inspection,  the notebook, complete with photographs glued on the pages as well as apparently random scribbled notes and doodles in pen, was in fact a vehicle for a line of expensive designer clothing. 

Norm Magnusson has done something similar with historic marker signs, which are instantly familiar, until one reads the text.
Magnusson's signs in fact are critiques of contemporary American society, with some of the sharpness of his social conscience message achieved by the illusion of putting contemporary American opinions or situations within what looks like a historic marker setting, as if to say, future generations will judge the opinions and prevailing wisdom of today, harshly. Thus: "On this spot stood Matt Lucash, a Christian for whom preventing gay marriage is more important than feeding the poor."

Below, an example of the real thing...