With our limping economies, the power flux between corporate giants, and the rover Curiosity landing on Mars, it could be said that the human climate here on earth is unstable at best, despite our steady technological progress.
Eddie Colla, Hugh Leeman, and D Young V have come together to envision a post-apocalyptical future, and do so by melding their perspectives into a single narrative. “We tried to find a point at which all of our work intersects. The idea of this ‘epilogue’ seems to be a natural progression for everyone’s work in one way or another,” says Colla. The word apocalypse comes from the Greek, meaning uncovered, and in religious contexts stands for a revelation of meaning hidden from mankind. This immersive installation will take place in LA’s Hold Up Gallery, and reveals a world by way of detritus, weaponry, images, and other objects in what the artists describe as a challenging but ultimately rewarding collaboration. Leeman forgoes oil paint in favor of the less traditional carbon soot emissions and 14 karat gold, billboard posters, and appropriated images from Facebook, while D Young V makes objects familiar to us strange, using weapons, flags, helmets, and vehicle parts.
One message these three are trying to convey is this: societal collapse may not be a bad thing. Leeman is painting females for the first time in years, and says that for him, “painting females is the light at the end of the tunnel.” They speak to rebirth, procreation, of a future and an exchange of power. When we spoke on the phone, Leeman told me about the time he almost drowned in Colombia on a rafting trip. The raft was sucked into a hole, which knocked the guide out, and the guide grabbed onto Leeman on his way out of the boat. In the water Leeman says he was thinking, “The world is amazing. It was the craziest thing, kind of beautiful in hindsight, totally quiet down in the water, I remember thinking this is so comfortable, I’m so glad i’m here.” This image of Leeman underwater, feeling at peace, makes me think of “Epilogue,” and of the irrational solace that could come when one is confronted with the possibility of death.
D Young V’s work speaks to the potential rebuilding and restructuring of culture, social order, and historical record after human society’s destruction. His work takes on a more militaristic, science fiction tract, reflecting life generations after this event. To do so, he focuses on weaponry and cultural objects, such as flags familiar to this world. “The weapons, helmets and other military-related gear display symbols and numbers used by developing organized military and tribal groups within this world,” says D Young V. The colors on these pieces imply a peaceful way of looking at the rebuilding process, and the weapons represent not violence, but the maintenance and protection of a social order. “The symbols displayed in my work imply that people have begun to develop new forms of language and communication years after the end of our world. Many of the symbols reference our modern day languages, but in a way that they are either being revisited or re-appropriated.”
Eddie Colla focuses on dying, memory, legacy, regret, and reassessment of values. His work presents the parallels between an apocalyptic event and the act of dying. The memory, legacy and experience of death will not be from the perspective of an individual, but from the collective. “The best part (of preparing for Epilogue) has been experimenting with new processes and new ways of making images. Working with new materials. Much of the work I have produced for this show involves found materials from my neighborhood,” says Colla. “Objects you find have there own set of characteristics. It’s not a blank canvas at all. All of these things have a history and part of that history is that they have become refuse, discarded. There’s some sort of redemption in that process.” When asked about what he found most difficult with this project, Colla says, “Most challenging has been walking away from the way I usually do things and starting over to some degree. It’s an uncomfortable process filled with failures and rethinking.” Colla describes the collaboration as disconcerting.
Leeman’s work deals with the corporatization and its effects on the environment. He focuses on systems and mechanisms which a potential apocalypse would decimate. “I’ve got models on my models on my computer,” he says, “an endless array of models.” Leeman describes his pieces as “an expression of the sublime” and “a portrait of the 21st century in both message and medium.” The backgrounds are corporate ad posters he has removed from billboards on nights while wheat pasting his work onto city walls, and he uses strangers’ Facebook images to create portraits. “I’m excited by this because it’s not me acting so much as my observations of society are creating my actions. I’m hoping that what I’m doing will speak to what is going on,” says Leeman. “My point here is, it’s easy to point your finger at corporate behemoths and companies that seem too big to fail. Aren’t we all responsible in some small way? What with the things we don’t think about, posting our information online? You know?” Leeman compares this notion of individual culpability to a snake eating its tail.
“Epilogue” opens Saturday, September 8th from 7-10pm. Hold Up Art Gallery is in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, across from LA MOCA. Ten hand-embellished Gallery Edition Epilogue prints on sale opening night. These prints represent the first 3-way collaboration between Colla, Leeman, and D Young V. For more information, visit the website at www.epiloguela.com, and take a look at the Epilogue video at http://vimeo.com/46161295.