Crushed is a piece of work using reused objects found in my studio and collected from my urban walks around the town of Taunton. When I found these flattened cans of Coca Cola I did not have an idea in how I would use them at the time. All that floated around in my mind was how I might use them in some way to create a piece of work akin to the post-modern artists Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg, using so-called popular commercial icons and elevating them into works of art in response to the times they were living.
On the 20th January 2017 whilst watching the inauguration of the new President of the United States on-line that I suddenly thought about these Coke cans I had collected and I began to think about the loaded meanings associated with these objects and how through creating this piece of work on this day, I would in some small way channel a shamanic response to all the loaded meanings flooding my thoughts during the event unfolding on the computer screen.
I realised that as a symbol with many meanings and controversies this piece would speak on many levels and in a small way some up some of the feeling as a result of Donald Trump becoming the 45th President of the United States.
During the making of the work these are some of the thoughts running through my mind at the time of its creation:
1: Coca Cola used to be infused with Cocaine and was sold in dime bars as a pick me up. These plays with the idea about the contradictions in American politics concerning the use of cocaine as a medicine, its subsequent illegality and the Iran/ Contra scandal during the 1980s and the shipment of cocaine to pay for arms in America’s war against communism.
2: Coca Cola becomes a symbol of the American Dream and Globalisation with ‘it’s the real thing’ advertising and global domination to spread American culture around the world, leading to controversies concerning water use in countries abroad and the problems of using water to produce a drink where profits go back to America and not the country of its production.
3: The iconographic colours (used in the image of Santa Claus who was originally green) to sell coke during the holiday season, the iconographic bottle in the shape of a woman’s figure, the loaded imagery used throughout its history to sell a product that is detrimental to our teeth, bones, stomach and health generally.
4: The liquid of coca cola used to clean objects including: Toilets, degreasing lorry engines, tarnished metal and more.
5: The image of Coca Cola is an icon itself seen in Western culture and in the deepest deserts of India (as seen on my travels).These are just some of the thoughts that flowed through my mind.
I realised during the making of these objects that it had become a symbol of neo-imperialist ideals. The idea that one could replace one culture with another, through the commercial avenue, thereby sub-planting the identity of another country with another.
This would enable Corporations to obtain greater bargaining power with the foreign country, gaining influence via lobbying and favours, giving greater power to those in power through business. This piece explores ideas about distribution of power, products, money and the destructive entropy associated with the commercial world through its pursuit of profit.
Yet, the new is always moving towards entropy – it is the way of the Universe. The cracks will always come through over time due to subsidence as a result of the poor foundations culture is built upon. This ‘hyper-realist'(1) ideal, where we live by the map instead of the real, has far removed us from the source by at least four or five steps back. The ‘unreality no longer resides in the dream or fantasy'(2), we the people are now the product. What better way to sum up these thoughts with the elevation of a businessman to become the President of the United States. Now, I am an outsider and can only make my observations as an outsider – and the British are as much to blame through its commercial enterprise at the expense of the people in the name of profit. We only have to look back a few hundred years ago to see…