Occupying a world between the cerebral and the grotesque, the multimedia work of New York- based artist, Mores McWreath, examines notions of freedom, choice and materialism. McWreath appropriates commercial slogans, pop music lyrics, and other commonplace, confrontational sources of American consumerist culture and joins them together, not only mimicking the information overload with which we are faced daily, but underlining the fragmented, senseless nature that media can achieve in contemporary culture. His chosen format mirrors the traditional method of advertising – brief and attention-grabbing. Placed together in seemingly inconsequential sequences, the viewer is led to view human existence through a construed mental play-back perspective, one imbued with dark humor and oftentimes a blurred sense of meaning. Leaving the viewer to actively pursue understanding of and meaning in the information presented, McWreath challenges the viewer to rise above passive observation to critical self analysis.
McWreath’s suburban childhood home of Westlake, Ohio has left the greatest impression on him and it is this for which his on-screen alter ego, Will Westlake, is named. Dominating his most recent work, Will Westlake is the volatile, fickle, über consumer. Constantly kicking, screaming and antagonizing, mostly in commercial spots for chain restaurants and clothing stores, Westlake exudes the token arrogant masculine aura with which American mainstream culture has always had a love-hate relationship. Westlake is not a foil to McWreath’s own self, rather he serves as the artist’s acknowledgement of his own struggles and failures to resist the allure of capitalism. The Bud, The Seed, The Egg (2008, left), features multiple vignettes of Will Westlake caged in a suffocating, bland corporate office space. Each varies radically regarding topic – from reciting the ridiculous amounts of toothpaste options at Target to singing the theme song of the television show, Growing Pains. His newest video, Remain (2009), uses a deserted, post-apocalyptic scene as its backdrop and sets Will Westlake to providing the viewer with an interchangeable set of platitudes and enigmatic statements such as “Your instincts are wrong” and “Fashion is all about self expression.” In conjunction with the large, empty space, and Westlake’s obvious isolation, it appears as if Will Westlake may even be reflecting on himself.
On view at CUE Art Foundation, McWreath’s first solo show in New York, will be an installation of his most recent video and sculptural work, including a large-scale projection of Remain.