Surface Politics: Mark Duffy’s Vote NO. 1

“When you think about these images, large blown-up images of the non-sexiest political campaigners in the world, one begins to think in terms of the anti-advertisement”

This is where weather and a duplicitous political atmosphere meet their true calling to embed action against the representations of image tribalism. Mark Duffy’s “Vote NO. 1” is perhaps one of the more clever books that I have come across. In a way it fits in nicely with Christopher Anderson’s “Stump” and certainly Daniel Mayrit’s glorious “You have Not Seen Their Faces”.

Duffy’s work won the 2014 Vienna Photobook prize and was published in collaboration with Anzenberger Gallery and Ostlicht. The book focuses on the ephemeral outdoor political post boards that are used in the electoral campaigns in Ireland. There is a weathering to the signs-stains, erosion, soiling and are cleverly imbibed for the process of representing political economy in the contemporary day and age. When you think about these images, large blown-up images of the non-sexiest political campaigners in the world, one begins to think in terms of the anti-advertisement. Politicians make the anti-thesis of a saleable image. Already rife with distrust, crooked smiles, and manufactured cutout econo-kit fashions, these images betray their ultimate aim, which is to represent an ideology through a gesture of the candidate’s ¾ portrait. It is with all glee that I see the pigeon shit crowning their dubious smiles. The recognition of potential candidacy in this anti-thesis almost brings about an inadvertent truth to the will of economic power coercing all lives across the planet in single images of those “chosen” to represent collective politics. The smiling pantomime of democracy, the ghost of capital shrouding each political entity’s shoulders buffers the truth of the matter like some Marxian paradigm for the abuses of power that has been emboldened in the decline or disruption of an image’s surface which has been left out in the air to be judged by passersby in their cars flinging mud from their radial tires driving the kids to work.

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“nails, screws, staples, and plastic ties bind the images to a support structure to attain higher visibility, yet strike at the aforementioned surface to create a whole that must be re-examined if not for their parody, then for their metaphor”

The very manufacturing of this political product also does much to abrade the surface quality of the image, but also that of the representation of power-nails, screws, staples, and plastic ties bind the images to a support structure to attain higher visibility, yet strike at the aforementioned surface to create a whole that must be re-examined if not for their parody, then for their metaphor. Duffy’s book captures this incessant dualism of politics and image in a clever affair, the book itself is bound in the same materials used to produce the actual signs themselves, the pages are glossy and laminate, much like the feeling that these images attempt to corroborate-plastic. It is a note on the brilliant failure of economic belief. The artist has cleverly serrated the notion of representing truth in politics by the very means of producing the book itself. It is anti-propaganda worth the award and further investigation. Highly Recommended.

 

 

Mark Duffy

Vote NO.1

Anzenberger Gallery and Ostlicht

 (All rights reserved. Text @ Brad Feuerhelm. Images @ Mark Duffy.)

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