Here I am, the number one Paolozzi maniac in East Kent, and only by chance this morning did I discover the Home and Away exhibition at the Beaney in Canterbury. I’m not sure how I missed being aware of this show – it’s been running since May 9th and features a fantastic array of the General Dynamic F.U.N. prints. It’s especially good to see the prints at first hand again and their manner of display – they’re not formally framed and have the ‘look’ of something still being proofed. From the ‘context’ exhibits I was also surprised by the fact that I’d forgotten about the original J G Ballard introduction to the Suite:
The marriage of reason and fantasy which has dominated the 20th century has given birth to an even more ambiguous world. Across the communications landscape move the spectres of sinister technologies and the dreams that money can buy. Thermo-nuclear weapons systems and soft-drink commercials coexist in an overlit realm ruled by advertising and pseudo-events, science and pornography. In ‘Moonstrips Empire News’ Eduardo Paolozzi brilliantly explored the darker side of this mysterious continent. By contrast, in ‘General Dynamic F.U.N.’ he brings together the happiest fruits of a benevolent technology. The leitmotif is the California girl sunbathing on her car roof. The mood is idyllic, at times even domestic. Tactile values are emphasised, the surface pleasures to be found in confectionary, beauty parlours and haute couture fabrics. Children play in a garden pool, a circus elephant crushes a baby Fiat. Varieties of coleslaw are offered to our palates, far more exciting than the bared flesh of the muscle men and striptease queens. Mickey Mouse, elder statesman of Paolozzi’s imagination, presides over this taming of the machine. The only factories shown here are manufacturing dolls. Customised motorcycles and automobile radiator grills show an amiable technology on its vacation day. Despite this pleasant carnival air, a tour de force of charm and good humour, Paolozzi’s role in providing our most important visual abstracting service should not be overlooked. Here the familiar materials of our everyday lives, the jostling iconographies of mass advertising and consumer goods, are manipulated to reveal their true identities. For those who can read its pages, ‘General Dynamic F.U.N.’ is a unique guidebook to the electric garden of our mind.
I think that’s brilliantly concise and illuminating.
If you’re in the South East, and – as I was up to today – unaware that such an image-feast is on offer, get a move on – the show closes on 23rd August. http://www.canterbury.co.uk/Beaney/whats_on/Home-And-Away.aspx