No artist avoids status anxiety from the judgments of polymarkets, and it often seems the only ideology defining art remains anti-Capitalist antagonism, despite pop art’s ubiquitous ironic recombination of fine and commercial art. Myths that art is just who you know are both true and devalue the complex interplay of measures of value.
A Gathering of the Tribes, Unpop’s natal location, as of September 2010, is a nearly broke
non-profit, non-commercial, arts organization run out of an old blind guy’s apartment. Its mission of diversity is as easily aimed towards unexpected conjunctions of art from the many splintered tribes of art practice, or that fronts at freedom from market constraints. Contemporary pop art rules the market because it is self-consciously and self-righteously a commodity. In Unpop, we show that spaces peripheral to the art market are all the more market-obsessed.Unpop involves artists who either use pop tropes or engage commodification in entirely
different ways. The aesthetic of high-saturation solid colors, forms simplified to communicate and ideas spun positive, sarcastically or not, pervade, from the attention-seeking demands of advertising.
Jenny Bhatt combines the cartoon style of Western popism with Hindu Buddhist myth and imagery, featuring a cast of conceptual deities in consumerist narratives. Alex Arcadia is pop art, an elaborate prophetic mythology in which the branding and marketing justifies the objects. Sam Pocker finds moments of dysfunctional absurdity, enforced ignorance, and thoughtless ugliness required by a late capitalist marketplace. Washington Chavez went to every gallery in New York City asking them to look at his paintings, and filmed all of it. Rita Alves’s anamorphic installation paintings of American atrocities question the tension between activism and entertainment. Lauren Hoffen paints interactive commercial editorial parodies. James Mercer assembles ephemeral cardboard and paint installations resembling video game levels.