Armed with a cherished “Manufrance” catalogue (the cost, 40 euros) and a characteristically sardonic wit, MAC PREMO has created a series of mixed-media constructions that magnify our mundane daily rituals and underscore the humor, ineptitude and frustration of an otherwise futile existence. For Premo, it’s the little things that matter – for instance, in Walk to the Right he vents his frustration with rule breakers and in This is How Fights Start, he illuminates a particularly loathsome glance between 1960s fashion models jockeying for position. Premo readily admits that there is really nothing to see here that will make a dent in the grand spectrum of existence:
“Each one of our short lives is a system designed to end only one way, and we all know what it is. Yet each one of us crafts his existence with intense attention to detail and personal care. That's a paradox, one that permeates every facet of our being. Yet leading a functional life demands that we ignore it. That's weird.”
Premo’s resin-encased collages and sculptures, as well as his critically acclaimed animations, center on the systematic gathering and documenting of objects. We assign significance to objects beyond their mere function. Subsequently, they become both mnemonic devices and vessels for our stories, personal and collective. This practice reached monumental proportions in his recent installation The Dumpster Project (www.thedumpsterproject.blogspot.com). The reoccurring theme of “machine” in Premo’s work speaks to our fundamental need to systematize our daily lives and our fascination with process, even though the outcome is known. For instance, in his Smash Bulb series, the detailed construction of the device is a nod to our desire for distraction. The machine’s ultimate function – to smash bulbs – however, speaks to our shared inevitable end. Premo sums up this duality by saying: “On a daily basis, I am not crippled by a preoccupation with my inevitable and guaranteed demise or my relative insignificance. In fact, I fly in its face: I allow myself to be distracted by steak and baseball, and moreover, I emotionally invest in things like marriage, procreation, family, even though I know it will someday all go away.
MAC PREMO has been exhibiting widely since 1999, including exhibitions at MoMA P.S.1, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Philoctetes Center, New York. The Dumpster Project was launched as part of the 2011 Dumbo Arts Festival and has been exhibited at PULSE Miami, Governor’s Island, the Dekalb Market and Invisible Dog Studio. It will be on display on the main quad of Adelphi University in Long Island thru April 2014. Premo is a 2008 NYFA Video Fellow and his films and animations have won numerous awards, including seven Emmy Awards for best commercial, photography, set design and PSA. He and fellow artist Oliver Jeffers were recently commissioned to create the TED Machine and video for the March TED conference.