Saturday, March 20, 2010

Art from the age of mechanical reproduction: 
Dina Gadia’s How Does That Grab You Darling
Taking its cue from pulp illustrations and B-movie posters, Dina Gadia’s latest solo exhibition How Does That Grab You Darling explores via acrylic on canvas the gap between what Walter Benjamin calls the cult value and the exhibition value of art, putting special emphasis on the cult aspect of cult movies. Obliquely, through her manual re-execution of images to have previously been mechanically reproduced, and also by her re-staging of them in a gallery context instead of the magazine and CD-cover environments they have been salvaged from, the show manages to raise the question: Does mechanical reproduction really render the masses it supposedly privileges more visible, or does it only further abstract them and their labor?

Working not so much with collages but with the idea of collages, Gadia makes humorous juxtapositions of readymade images minus the method of cutting them out and splicing them against each other. Instead, she paints the image all over again as if the collage were a single layer of picture, such that the collage’s own concession of pictorial flatness is itself flattened even further, hiding its own seams and concealing points of post and paste. Is it possible that this flatness is analogous to how consumer culture—the market toward which such images have been originally directed, the darlings intended to be grabbed or, more appropriately, hailed (to use Althusser’s term) by the proliferation of such images—can now be described, flat in its banality?

Dina Gadia’s How Does that Grab You Darling opens on April 16 at Blanc Gallery, 2E Crown Tower, H.V. De la Costa St., Salcedo Village, Makati. The show will run till May 8.