A story is told, an image presented... Do we accept the presentation, the appearance, the image, the facade, as truth? Is representational meaning verifiable or is it relative and manipulable? Or, things are not what they appear to be, and as Shakespeare put it in The Merchant of Venice, “All That Glisters Is Not Gold.” Art has always asked we re-examine our perception, demanded we ask if there is a way to reconstitute elements in order to reach a clearer understanding of truth.
Drawing from the curator’s love of satire and Dadaism as means of piercing the armor of the accepted and obvious, each of the works in All That Glisters Is Not Gold aims to challenge the viewer by provoking their expectations. Whether via the form, content or meaning of the work, each work in the exhibition is a reversal of the original intended meaning of the elements comprising it or an elaborate layering of the deceptive nature of preconceptions. Via the restructuring or reorganization of representational meaning, a new, deeper and more resonant perspective is revealed.
The Damien Hirst is a striking example of a multi-faceted and layered series of untruths. Hirst created a series of objects, which due to their imaginative elements, are largely free of associations, thereby beginning with the idea of meaning as malleable. He then concocted a story to explain these objects and exhibited them as artwork and artefact. The banner bearing an image from “Wreck of The Unbelievable” hanging in “Glisters” becomes thereby a mass-produced reproduction of a false documentation of an untrue story. The banner itself, sold as a souvenir becomes a form of indoctrination to the masses of the idea of the falsehood of representation - a thing not real, billed as real, then mass-reproduced as a token artefact of a lie.
Other works play on recognized form, taking the appearance of one thing, yet upon closer examination revealing another. Dennis Izquierdo’s rich and concise work displays an actual Cuban Missile Crisis era small missile on a stand, which when opened becomes a music box, lined in red felt, playing Frank Sinatra’s “When You’re Smiling”. For all the violence and tension the object itself portends, by turning the weapon into a music box, the piece evokes a curious tenderness and delicacy, akin to humanity’s bewildered reverence for its history. Literally filling the worst of humanity as weapon and destruction with the best of humanity, as music and beauty, the object simultaneously entombs hope while yet longing for it. The piece begins as a contradiction but ends up a profound whole, in one object encapsulating the best and worst of mankind.
Each piece in All That Glisters Is Not Gold tells a story truer than the sum of its parts.