- Ella Noonan
Alex Da Corte - Bad Land at the Josh Lilley Gallery
Taking a break from the familiarity of large open spaces covered in white paint and oozing in natural light, Bad Land by Venezuelan/American artist Alex Da Corte, was a refreshing and exciting break from the norm. The seemingly un-assuming white door is about the only understated part of the whole experience, the moment you step through it you're then greeted by garish colours, neon lights, and an eclectic mixture of art, and objects on the walls. The room you enter in sets the tone of the exhibition in the sense everything is somewhat surreal and kitsch, however it still has a considerably more gallery-esque feel to it compared to the rest.
As soon as you go down the plush carpeted staircase, you're transported into an obscure new world where large neon lights illuminate the ambient smoke that fills each room in it's own way. Initially you're faced with a giant Adidas Superstar with the middle segment stripped out as though to resemble a bed - an unexpected concept for a shoe that's commonly associated with sport and athletics, in particular, basketball. The softness of the mauve carpet and pale pink walls broken up by the exposed brickwork and beams on the ceiling make it an Instagram-obsessed, millennial's wet dream - the perfect combination of 90's pop-princess tat, and underground edginess to get them likes reeling in. Although this is not Cortes intention, there are a lot of pop-cultural references that make it so accessible to a younger audience, the most significant being his portrayal of Eminem's character 'Slim Shady' through a series of 3 videos on old TV's doing a series of oddly unsettling acts from struggling to untangle controller wires, smoking weed from an array of interesting bongs, to dousing himself in bright yellow mustard. The inclusion of Eminem as a character stems from previously studying him over the past 6 years, with Bad Land acting as the third instalment of his work relating to the American rapper.
Neon strip lights radiate the next room with a glowing reddy-orange tone that to me drew strong links to a feeling of seduction and temptation, there's something about the harshness of it all that alludes to the idea of guilty pleasures; reminiscent of the red light district yet at the same time there was something incredibly satisfying about it all as an aesthetic. On top of a low down coffee table was an assortment of makeshift bongs crafted out of various objects ranging from a minions toy to a lemon. Displayed on the TV in the corner of the room was the video of Da Corte appearing as Eminem smoking weed from the bongs - an experience that Da corte describes as '"terrifying" in one article.
One of the key focal points of Da Corte's practice is finding the positives within the mundane and dismissing as little as possible when it comes to what's considered beautiful. He questions why certain things are considered to be in good or bad taste and how our opinions on such matters create divides between classes.
The Final room is significantly more symbolic of the rapper stereotype that comes to mind when thinking of individuals such as Eminem. A dark abyss with dark green carpet and black walls clouded by a thick hazy smoke that's lit up by a large luminous green crown. The ostentatious nature of the crown that sits central on the wall resonates with this idea of rappers all competing with each other in a sense of being the best but also by having the best things. To me the crown represents a symbol of power and hierarchy as well as this materialistic urge to have the shiniest most expensive things as a means of showing status.