April 16, 2021 Taos, New Mexico

The Harwood Museum of Art

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Friday, September 6 - Sunday, November 10, 2019

Jonathan Blaustein: Party City is the Devil

Galleries: Studio 238 and Peter & Madeleine Martin Corridor
Jonathan Blaustein, "Silver-blue crown and red plastic tablecloth,"  dye sublimation on aluminum print, 2016-19Jonahan Blaustein, "Green plastic spoons and orange plastic tablecloth,"  dye sublimation on aluminum print, 2016-19Jonathan Blaustein, "Yellow plastic-injection-mold fedora and yellow plastic tablecloth," dye sublimation on aluminum print, 2016-19Janathan Blaustein, "Red paper pennants and yellow plastic tablecloth,"  dye sublimation on aluminum print, 2016-19Jonathan Blaustein, "Yellow confetti paper and blue plastic tablecloth,"  dye sublimation on aluminum print, 2016-19
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Artist Statement: The world is drowning in garbage. We all know its true. Whether clogging our landfills, or choking fish in the sea, our addiction to things in Late Capitalist America is leading to the potential extinction of nearly everything. In 2016, I decided to use party supplies as a metaphor for the absurdist, runaway overconsumption that is depleting the world's resources, and changing its climate. With their candy colors and chemical nature, these paper and plastic playthings are the perfect symbol for taking what we want from the Earth, rather than what we need.

Party City is the world's biggest party supply conglomerate, so I shopped there for 1.5 years, buying objects to make into temporary sculptures in my studio. All the images were made using natural light only, and contain things that used to be natural resources. Trees, plants, and oil are converted into plastic spoons, scary masks, diabetes-inducing candy, and paper streamers.

Party City exists to sell trinkets and objects that end up in the trash the day they're used. It's an entirely disposable culture, and one I wanted to put under a microscope with my current work. (In the case of the recent global news story, Party City helped drained the world of helium, which they give away for free with each mylar balloon they sell.)

Every day, the news gets worse, with respect to the future of our planet. I'm hoping these colorful, dynamic-yet-dystopic images will help bring attention the climate change, as they present a sense of cheery foreboding and underlying chaos that is difficult to miss.

Meet the Artist, Friday, September 13, 2019 - 4 - 6pm

BIO: Jonathan Blaustein is an artist, writer, and educator based in Taos, New Mexico. He has exhibited his work widely in galleries and museums the US, and in festivals in Europe as well. His photographs reside in several important collections, including the Library of Congress, the State of New Mexico, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Jonathan is a weekly columnist at the popular blog A Photo Editor, and spent six years as a photo critic at the New York Times Lens blog as well, with previous bylines online for The New Yorker, VICE, and Hyperallergic. He taught photography at UNM-Taos for many years, and recently founded the Antidote Photo Retreat at his family horse farm outside Taos.