POWER OF LOVE
24th Bienal de Sao Paulo
Complete installation 22 W x 20 D x 10 H ft, mixed media (backlit digital Panaflex panels in lightboxes, polychrome plexiglas lit “disco” floor, bulbs, electronic controller, painted MDF bench)
Backlit Panaflex lightbox A (left) (8 x 6.5 ft)
Backlit Panaflex lightbox B (right) (8 x 6.5 ft)
Backlit Panaflex lightbox C (center) (6.5 x 4 ft)
Heart-shaped MDF bench (4 x 4 ft)
Floor 22 x 20 ft
Power of Love was conceived for and exhibited at the 24th Bienal de São Paulo, whose animating concept was the Manifesto Antropófago (Cannibal Manifesto) of 1928, written by the Brazilian poet Oswald de Andrade. One of the earliest and most inspired postcolonial texts, the Manifesto Antropófago advanced the idea of Brazil consuming dominant European cultural forms in order to forge a new reality.
Cultural expression today continues to remain shackled by Western dominance that the Manifesto Antropófago had identified decades ago. In addition, postcolonial nation-states enact official homogeneous educational and cultural projects in order to mold their citizens. On the other hand, the flourishing of media has resulted in a split public-sphere, in which people are not passive recipients of imported and top-down practices, but are incestuously involved in carnivalesque power play, in which westernization, state ideologies, and popular forms are mutually and often theatrically intermingled in new arenas of “cannibalist” consumption.
Power of Love explores informal lifeworlds of the Global South that are suffused with popular media and aesthetics. It invites the vewer to contemplate a large-scale and immersive installation. One enters a sensory field of pulsing geometric color fields on the disco floor and cinema and popular figures and icons on the surrounding sides, in which intimacty and violence jostle with each other. The images are drawn from popular greeting cards, calendar images with associated “wise” aphorisms, and Pushto language cinema that foregrounds violence and soft-porn. They are placed within the diagrammatic structure of board games, the song-and-dance sets, and the architectonics of TV game shows of South Asia’s media-saturated landscape.