TO MAIN ART GALLERY
Mark Vallen (c) 1991
$200 Serigraph 17.5" x 23" inches
Each print signed by the artist
silkscreen print New World Odor was included in the
exhibition, JUST ANOTHER POSTER? - Chicano Graphic Arts
in California, a historic collection of Chicano artworks
from the 70's to the late 1990's that traveled to museums
across the US. The exhibit ran at the Fowler
Museum at the University of California Los Angeles from
June 16, 2001 to December 29, 2001, and I wrote a short
review of that show.
the official illustrated catalog for the exhibit, then Associate
Professor of English at UCLA, Rafael Perez-Torres, who also
happened to be one the show's curators, wrote the following
incisive passage regarding my print:
identity has often been expressed in terms of personal and
cultural development at the nexus of various systems of
economic, political, and cultural exchange. This concern
informs the critique behind Mark Vallen's New World Odor.
The title puns on the phrase President George H.W. Bush
used to characterize the sociopolitical configuration of
the world after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet
Union. The poster suggests this new order means nothing
but the same carnage beneath a different regime. The pile
of skulls tumbling toward the viewer presents a macabre,
perhaps slightly mocking vision of what awaits us in a world
dominated by capital and commerce.
gothic lettering seems to reference the poster art of the
Third Reich, suggesting that the fall of communism has ensured
the triumph of fascistic forces. The critique here is part
of that strain in Chicano public art connected with political
conditions at a global and international level."
I always valued Perez-Torres' assessment of New World
Odor, but my print also took inspiration from sources
other than the top news stories of the day. Influences ranged
from the sardonic skeletal figures of the Mexican artist
Josť Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913) and the iconography of
Day of the Dead celebrations, to the aggressively apocalyptic
aesthetics of late 1970s punk rock.