A viewer could easily see Da Corte’s work as cynical, from its delectation in surface and use of familiar objects to pop culture references and kitsch-cool. It’s the kind of Insta-pop that millennials go mad for. But that’s not the artist’s intention. “My work is not cynical at all,” Da Corte tells me when I find him, as it happens, eating pasta in a tiny Italian restaurant near the gallery.
“People think my work is very fast, because the colors are hot, and the images are accessible; it uses the language of advertising,” Da Corte explains. “But it’s really slow; it’s about slowing down.” It is, also, critical: There is a profound criticism of our way of seeing, knee-jerk responses and judgmental attitudes, especially among the privileged classes, to things that are perceived as “bad taste.”
At “Bad Land,” the audience walks through four rooms, arranged as scenes, that the artist conceived as a 3D film, a narrative led by colours and mood. Each room is centered on a series of objects: a giant white Adidas sneaker; a table laden with bong-sculptures fashioned out of Sprite cans; and plastic products we’re used to seeing at the supermarket, like Clorox and marshmallow Fluff, which represent the borders of class and taste. The neon crown that hangs on the wall in the next room is a reference to Pat’s King of Steaks, a famous cheesesteak joint in Philadelphia, which is across the street from a rival establishment that is known for being racist and homophobic. It’s these borders that Da Corte wants to confront. “How can we create empathy when we live in a world of trash?” he asks.