Dan Rees
World Art Trends 1982 |
11 Dec 2021 - 15 Jan 2022

The roots of many political and cultural trends today can be traced back to what has been described as the ‘silent revolution’ of the 1980s. World Art Trends 1982 considers some of these effects and how certain constructions have evolved into today’s political and cultural landscape, characterised by endless cultural recycling, social intolerance and increasing right-wing populism. If the 1980s were personified, it could be thought of as a ‘damaged’ psyche.

The 1980s were a transitional decade, which saw many governments converge around the ‘Washington consensus’ and cede economic responsibility to the ‘free’ market. The fall of the Berlin wall marks 1989 as a significant date within the emergence of something we may term the ‘contemporary’. The contemporary as a new temporal condition can be understood as the result of the ‘dissolution of independent Left political cultures, and the decisive victory of a neo-liberal globalization of capital’ (Osborne 2013).

World Art Trends

This series of photographs are taken from the survey book titled World Art Trends 1982. The collection of artistic works is meant to function as an overview of the ‘world’ art scene in the year 1982. Of course, understood relative to the consciousness of the 1980s, one is required to read ‘world’, as the economic ‘West’ and the ‘West’ as functioning as the geometric totality of the ‘globe’ ideologically mapped onto the concept of the ‘world’. In this sense the 80’s can be considered the decade in which the world is reduced to the economically designated spatial relationality of the globe.

Silent Revolution

This series of sculptures feature fragments of chalk rock from the white cliffs of Dover housed in custom made Perspex display cases. The cases have been designed to replicate enlarged versions of key-ring souvenirs of the Berlin wall. During the 2016 British independence referendum the cliffs of Dover became an unhappy symbol of a specific version of a creeping totalitarianism.

World Art Trends (paintings)

These paintings relate to earlier works that mimic the patterns in Artex ceilings, a decorative technique popular in the 60s and 70s, which fell out of fashion in the 1980s. As a material today, Artex is to contemporary interior design what the word ‘community’ was to the ‘young upwardly-mobile professionals’ of the 80s.

312 Oystermouth Road

This series of contact prints contain images taken from my grandmother’s old flat in Swansea. Growing up I spent a lot of time in these spaces. Visible in the photos are her pebble-dash walls and Artex ceilings. Much of my work has been situated in relation to Welsh political history, specifically the internationalist movements which emerged in the 20th century. These forms of solidarity were representative of Left politics associated with an era of national capital that must now be rethought in an era of transnational capital.

Charles the Frog

This is a short animation that takes inspiration from the lyrics to We Are All Bourgeois Now by the band McCarthy, the words go some way to describing the ‘Yuppie’ spirit of the 1980s. 

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