David Noonan’s untitled exhibit, which opened on September 7th and which will remain a resident of Foxy Production through October 26th, is a maelstrom of layered representations, imperialistic tendencies, and re-mediation/appropriation gone horribly right. The Australian-born Noonan communicates through collage, re-mediating found imagery (often sepia-toned, or black and white photographs) with roughly-textured fabrics that are folded and patterned. And with every patch worked piece, I found myself asking the same question: which is it that pulls me ever closer to these works of art, their pureness, or their “tampered” re-imaginings? This recurring crisis between purity and appropriation is what fuels Noonan’s exhibit.
Take for instance this piece, entitled, White Rabbit.
© David Noonan, White Rabbit, 2013. Courtesy of David Noonan and Foxy Production, New York.
Noonan, here, connotes a distinct divide between Eastern and Western philosophies, creating a vacuum between the Jesus figure on the left, and the communal Asian group on the right. The patterned section of fabric that occupies this space though, caught my attention the most; it reminded me, and still does, of the American flag, a material infused with numerous ideologies, and which forms trans-cultural schisms. Upon closer inspection, I became aware of the deformed, mask-like faces that plague some members of the Asian collection to the right of the collage. It is as if Noonan is decrying the Western ideologies that impair complete understanding of Eastern identity and cultural practices. In this line of thinking then, the textured pieces of cloth are placed expertly, sequestering each geographical mindset in its own “bubble.”
© David Noonan, Untitled, 2013. Courtesy of David Noonan and Foxy Production, New York.
However, Noonan takes this statement a bit further, as evinced in the untitled work above. At once, there is a manifest declaration concerning the appropriation of female genitalia (the meditative poses indicative of the silencing of women), but also a latent vocalization pointing out an appropriation on a much larger scale, that of Western society in relation to its Eastern counterpart. Once again, a single piece of fabric, eerily similar to the American flag, floats ominously, omnipotently in the middle of the collage. In this manner, I thought Noonan’s work to be reflexive, simultaneously a re-imagining of pre-existing photographs, and a portrayal of hegemonic appropriation.
While the exhibit consisted of only a few collages, the power of their sum and message was undeniable. There are never any inadequacies in art that makes you think.
Review by Paul Longo