EXAMPLES OF CURRENT WORK:
Anonymising the Magazine – from Magazine: 2012. Download a free PDF of the exhibition catalogue here.
Iconoclasm Two Point Zero: Playing
Jaine responds to what she considers a diminishment of media-built comic-book dictators of the Middle East and north Africa in a substantial body of work she calls Iconoclasm Two Point Zero. With an acknowledgement that iconoclasm has existed for centuries, Jaine looks at what makes the act of defacing a political portrait different in current times. “Two point zero” references a new age of web technologies (2.0) that are user-centered and participatory in nature.
In 2011 Jaine attempted to recreate traditional, overbearing political portraits from anonymous revolutionaries sourced via the internet, but abandoned the idea in favour of a method that did not use the same language as the propaganda-ists. In Iconoclasm Two Point Zero: Playing Jaine demonstrates her own form of defacement that anonymises the subject – but in turn suggests a power in anonymity. Taking 254 individuals sourced from the internet, Jaine forms a pack of 52 playing cards. Her interest in Clay Shirky’s work and altermondialism are apparent, however the networked community of cards is not entirely positive – a sinister lone wolf terrorist lurks (Jack of Spades) alongside Freemasons (Five of Clubs) and poker addicts (Queen of Clubs).
Jaine’s interest in the rising influence of the individual is a common theme in her work, as is the colour green. Many have misinterpreted Jaine’s use of green as either referencing Gaddafi’s Libyan flag or the religion of Islam. Whilst Jaine might have a fascination for both, the carefully selected shade of green that re-occurs in Jaine’s work is the colour used by television and film to generate media illusions – or chromakey. Jaine’s use of chromakey provides an empty narrative, there for the connected individual to embellish. Installation work includes actual chromakey fabric, some salvaged from TV studios. In her playing cards – each figure has been carefully chromakeyed out – in a reversal of the usual media technique of using chromakey for the background.
Jaine appears as a Joker in the pack – a carefully painted portrait from a photograph in Iraq in 2006 – a dark period of her life she has written and often spoken of. An image of Julian Assange’s arrest provides the other Joker. Although Jaine and Assange are recognisable, the majority of the pack remain anonymous to the viewer – all chosen for a reason – for the strength they find in connecting with others. This is in stark contrast to political leaders who feel the need to promote their faces to achieve power – the power of networked individuals can often be in their anonymity.
Jaine’s passion for the work of John Baldessari is also apparent in her single-coloured defacements. Baldessari less defaced, and more obscured faces with a notion of erasing individuality and transforming a specific person into an obscure object. Jaine’s work takes this further and asks whether the strength in individuality can be heightened by the concealment of an identity.
Hoarding: Anti-Propaganda Propaganda
Jaine’s interest in the political portrait and use of the human face in propaganda extends to the act of defacement and stems from her time in Iraq in 2006, when she developed an awareness of the systematic destruction of images of Saddam Hussein. Jaine’s approach references the work of anthropologist, Michael Taussig, and his claim that defacement can be likened to enlightenment, and works on objects the way jokes work on language, bringing out their inherent magic.
Although defacement can involve concealing or obscuring a face, Taussig’s notion that defacement brings insides outside, unearthing knowledge, and revealing mystery is of relevance to Jaine. After her appropriation of a savagely wrecked portrait of Gaddafi from Libya in 2011 – prior to his death Jaine attempted to reconstruct a defacement. In the same year, Jaine sourced prominent PR or propaganda portraits from the internet, and prepared them for a workshop with a group of artists. Her intention was to unearth any creativity generated by the destruction. Supplying the tools of defacement, Jaine asked a group of artists to deface those “most hated”. She also took part herself.
Jaine has captured both the energy of anger and the wounds of mockery in her work, Hoarding, which is ultimately presented on a commercial advertising banner, poised to be hoisted and used as a mechanism for influencing the populace. The words she has used are transcribed glimpses of the defacement exercise. Perhaps because of Jaine’s history of working in both the advertising industry and the world of government spin-doctoring, she blurs the boundaries of propaganda and advertising in yet another reference to her favoured French commentator, Jean Baudrillard, who says the two fuse “in the same marketing and merchandising of objects and ideologies” (Simulations 1983).
Iconoclasm Two Point Zero: Sound Recording
Jaine’s has also produced sound pieces based on live interviews and happenings with defacers and those who have witnessed defacement of political figures. She draws on her fascination for creativity that is released through the mystery of the art of destruction.
Five Migrants: The Searle Award
In 2012 Caroline Jaine’s peice “5 Migrants” was shortlisted for the Searle Award. This work was drawn from five interviews with migrants living in the UK. It transcribes their words into a 184 page book, presenting the five journeys in the form of a puzzle. Jaine said, “I wanted the reader/viewer to be able to make choices, play with their assumptions, and reflect the choices made by the story-tellers”.
Notions of transience and alternative ways of telling “true” stories reference Jean Baudrillard’s work. The appropriation and fragmentary approach to images is in homage to John Baldesarri and Walter Benjamin respectively. In the work she thanks Bath Library for bringing her Searle’s To The Kwai – And Back (War Drawings 1939-1945) twenty two years ago, which in turn lead to uncovering of her grandfather’s travel photographs and drawings from the war that feature in this work. The front cover image is of Jaine’s grandfather writing home from India. Other images used have been donated by the subjects, or are Jaine’s own photographs and paintings.
“5 Migrants” is available for sale via Askance Publishing. It has been renamed Getting There.
This is Not a Tattoo