Cross MacKenzie Gallery, in collaboration with Mindy Solomon Gallery in Miami, and Jonathan Ferrara Gallery in New Orleans, presents this exhibition of photographs by the collaborating partners Matt Vis and Tony Campbell who practice as “Generic Art Solutions” on view during FOTOWEEK DC.
This New Orleans-based art duo use nearly every art medium as they examine the recurring themes of human drama and the (dis)functions of contemporary society. Always rooted in performance, they play every character in their work. In their more distilled “duets” we see something of a yin and yang (a balance between individuals that aren’t quite interchangeable), but in their more elaborate “stageings” the result is as epic as the subject matter itself. By combining Classical, Romantic, and Baroque compositional elements with contemporary pictorial techniques, they manage to illuminate the common thread that connects past histories with current events. This strategy creates something of a “Déjà Vu effect” that is often driven by the well-known works of art they reference.
In this dialogue between the past and present the viewer realizes several things: 1) that the history of art is inextricably political, 2) that human behavior repeats itself no matter how tragic or brutal, and 3) that this cycle of repetition must be broken so personal and societal progress can be made. Despite all this, their work contains a glimmer of hope and an element of levity.
Their public performances certainly contain their most humorous and irreverent commentary on the function of art and contemporary life itself. More absurd than comical, their performances engage the audience by playing carefully developed roles with a specific task at hand. Their best-known and longest-running performance is the “International Art Police”, or the “Art Cops”. They outfit themselves in authentic police uniforms (complete with badges, police cruiser, and special ticket books) and take to the streets with the mission of “Safeguarding Art Communities Worldwide”. They patrol art galleries, and museums looking for suspicious art activities and issue “Notice of Violation” fines for work deemed “Too Art School”, “Formulaic”, “Too Trendy”, or “Even I Could Do That” infractions. Washington DC’s extensive museum culture could very well be fertile ground for Generic Art Solutions’ passionate engagement with art history.