As a child, Talwst’s mother would bring him to flea markets where he first developed an obsession with Bossons heads; A series of hand-painted, high relief portraits, sculpted from gypsum plaster and produced between 1958 and 1982. Procuring a collection of these heads, Santiago retains a nostalgic affection for them, while still questioning the various Bossons artists’ perverse sense of exoticism. As a Trinidadian-Canadian growing up in a small, predominantly Caucasian suburb of Alberta, the Bossons aesthetic—kitsch racism, dismemberment, deranged otherness—repelled and fascinated Talwst, and still does.
For this exhibition, Talwst will be refashioning his collection of Bossons heads into a contemporary version of 15th Century Italian Death masks, and he has detailed them with all the modern trappings of the “Swag Rap” culture. With “Death of Swag” he will be laying to rest his long held fascination with the exoticism of the masks while toying with mainstream aspects of hip-hop that Talwst believes the culture is moving away from. To this end, each head has been fitted with custom 3-D resin printed shades, and Talwst has handcrafted ornate grilles and jewels using gold leaf, as well as, semi-precious stones. These carefully crafted accessories embody the pervasive fashion aesthetic of “urbanized lifestyle” that has been appropriated by suburban youth all over the world, a fitting addition to the Bossons’ exaggerated stereotyped faces.
“Talwst: Death of Swag,” curated by Zack Bout runs August 15 through September 12, 2012, at Fuse Gallery, 93 2nd Ave (between 5th & 6th Sts, 2nd Ave stop on the F), NYC, NY. The opening reception, on Wednesday August 15, from 7 to 10 pm, is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Fuse Gallery at 212.777.7988 or email@example.com.