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Thomas Hirschhorn: Utopia, Utopia = One World, One War, One Army, One Dress
In the past decade Thomas Hirschhorn has emerged as one of the most provocative, ambitious, and inventive figures in contemporary art. He is known for energetic sculptural installations that reference philosophy, politics, globalization, and pop culture. Influenced by his background in graphic design, Hirschhorn deliberately situates his art as a kind of communication between diverse communities, belief systems, and aesthetic strategies.
The leaping-off point for Utopia, Utopia is the prevalence of camouflage in contemporary culture and politics—as a style of dress on the streets of SoHo and as an emblem of battle in the current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Hirschhorn takes these conflicting connotations and extends the use of camouflage to its most extreme, absurd conclusion. If everyone on earth is camouflaged, will we be part of one army, fighting the same war? Will we have then reached utopia? Hirschhorn’s project is an allegorical reading of our moment, in which the actual dystopia of current events permeates both the individual and the social body.
Utopia, Utopia resembles an exhibition in a museum of natural history, featuring dioramas, displays, text panels, timelines, video footage, vitrines, and maquettes, all filtered through the artist’s intense aesthetic vision and rendered in ephemeral materials including cardboard and packing tape. His dense, lively, and immersive installation helps us grapple with and better understand the world we live in. Challenging yet also accessible, Utopia, Utopia confronts the dark side of our society while reaffirming art’s power to illuminate the conditions of contemporary life.