Artists Appropriate ‘Signs of the Times’

NEW YORK—From Coca-Cola and Facebook to common street signs, artists are using recognized brands and symbols to promote political messages and comment on civil and corporate society. “Detournement: Signs of the Times,” a group show at Jonathan LeVine Gallery features contributions from more than a dozen artists whose works subvert intended meaning, tackling hot-button issues such as privacy, consumption, religion and sexuality. The gallery defines the French term “detournement” as a detour or derailment that “has served various generations as a common strategy by which to subvert consensus visual language so as to turn the expressions of capitalist culture against themselves” and uses “a semblance of the easily recognizable to dissemble and redirect the literal meaning of signs so as to construe a more honest picture of their deceptive intentions.”

Today is the last day to observe the irony. “Detournement” is on view from Aug. 8 to Aug. 25, 2012.

All photos © Arts Observer

Above, from left, “God Loves Fags (Tobias Yves Zintel series)” and “God Loves Dykes (Tobias Yves Zintel series),” (both acrylic on panel) by Mike Osterhout. Top of page, “Man of Sorrows,” 2007-12 (digital and mixed media on sintra) by Dan Witz.

According to the gallery, the “God Loves Fags” sign was on display in front of a church in Sullivan City, N.Y., near Mike Osterhout’s studio, and was vandalized. The artist chose to continue exhibiting it, damaged, as the incident demonstrates the resonance of the message.

From left, “Liquidated Coca-Cola” and “Cold Case” (video of liquidated logo performance on a Coca-Cola promotional refrigerator) both by Zevs.

Detail of “Liquidated Coca-Cola,” 2010 (liquitex on metal) by Zevs.

Installation view of “Man of Sorrows” by Dan Witz.

Detail of “Man of Sorrows” by Dan Witz.

“Self Portrait as King Baby I,” 2011-12 (digital and mixed media on sintra) by Dan Witz.

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