27/5/12 – The Dead Factory, 2009
I also discovered another image from Laurie Lipton in the Cute & Creepy Catalogue that I am currently reading. Lipton explains that most of her works are black & white, which are inspired by the works of Diane Arbus.
I do find Lipton’s Dead Factory particularly interesting and one could argue that Lipton’s image questions capitalism or mass production with the Post modern era. Perhaps the skeletal figure’s within the factory portray a negative image of capitalism or the consumer culture. One could argue that the skeletal figures convey society’s own demise due to fast food commercials, alcohol advertisements or packaging for cigarettes.
Slavoj Zizek highlight’s Marxian theories in relation to commoditization and ‘fetishism’. Marx argues that money becomes a ‘material object’, which is also defined as a “commodity fetishism”. Zizek also emphasises Marx’s analysis of the ‘material object’ (money) which also establishes “social relations” with other subjects or forms.
Sut Jhally also questions how a particular product becomes fetishized with reference to Marxian theories or interpretations. Accordinf to Jhally society begin to fetishize over a certain object, when they start to believe that a particular form or representation is highly significant or valuable. Jhally argues that a person becomes a fetishist when they are unable to recognise that human beings actually provide products with cultural meaning or worth.
In the Codes of Advertising: Fetishism and the Political Economy of Meaning in the Consumer Society, Sut Jhally makes a very interesting comment. “For example if we were to think that money has value (of which it is merely a representation) as an inherent quality, without recognising that it’s value is only the result of a momentary system create by humans, then we would be fetishizing money” (S. Jhally, 1990 p.28 – 29)
Could one apply Marxist theories to Lipton’s Dead Factory? One could argue that Lipton’s image suggests that death, the skull and the cadaver have become very popular reproductions within the consumer culture. Jacque Lynn Foltyn also associates the subject of death with Fetishism in relation to fashion and contemporary photography.
Foltlyn argues that “the corpse and its simulated versions is the new fetishised body” (J. Foltyn, 2010 p.10 – 13) Has the corpse or the skull become a fetishized product through mass production? In relation to Jhally’s theories and Marxism, one could argue that society perceive an image or a representation of a skull very significant without realising that human beings actually provide the skull with cultural, spiritual and historical meanings.
Perhaps Lipton’s work portrays society’s desires for death related products, which become apart of a never-ending cycle of reproduction and mass consumption.
According to Sean O’Hagan from the Guardian, Arbus exceptional photographs portray ‘twins, circus performers, giants’ and other distinctive subjects. Once could argue that Arbus exposes the viewer to subjects or forms that also causes a sense of unfamiliarity or displacement.
Lipton’s drawings also feature excellent rendering and a high level of detail, which may display similarities with Abus’s photographs. One could also argue that both artists apply unusual or ‘uncanny’ subjects with very traditional formats such as drawing and photography.
Lipton, Laurie. “Bio.” Laurie Lipton, 2010 http://www.laurielipton.com/bio/. (Accessed 26/5/12)
Baade, Carrie. “Cute & Creepy.” Florida: Florida State University of Fine Arts 2011. p. 42
Zizek, Slavoj. Excerpt from “How Did Marx Invent the Symptom”. In the Sublime Object of Ideology. London & New York: Verso 1989 p.28 – 30
Jhally, Sut. The Codes of Advertising: Fetishism and the Political Economy of Meaning in the Consumer Society. New York: Routledge 1990. p.26 -27
O’Hagen, Sean. “Diane Arbus: Humanist or Voyeur?” The Gaurdian, 2011 http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2011/jul/26/diane-arbus-photography-sideshow. (Accessed 27/5/12)
Diane Arbus. “The Photography of Diane Arbus.” http://diane-arbus-photography.com/.
Laurie Lipton: http://www.copronason.com/liptons_pr.html