Referring to any day that has already occurred, any day that is not today, as “simpler times” is wrong. It wasn’t simpler. Today is simpler, at least if we’re speaking about the basics of getting the lower portion of our hierarchy of needs met.
Technology and industry have freed up time for us to find our purpose instead of our supper.
The only way in which is may have been simpler “back then” is the subject of fear. You knew who or what your enemy was, which ultimately makes that thing less scary. The boundaries and the sides were in black and white, for better or worse, however problematic.
Today we don’t have that mental resting ground, or at least we shouldn’t if we are to be aware and thoughtful about what is happening in our communities, nation, world. But what does all that thinking for the outside do to our insides?
It leaves many of us numb. Left staring at the warring outside through a pulled aside velvet curtain made in China. Our alarm buttons have been on so long, their din has become background noise in a landscape of mental disbelief.
So what do we do? Turn inward. Or find a way to laugh.
That’s what Joan Cornella’s work is about for me—the recurring disbelief that things are never, ever what they seem and everything from enemies to heroes are indefinable properties constantly en morph. Essentially. there’s no place to land.
The inaugural exhibit at Miishkooki Art Space in Skokie on Chicago’s North Shore features Cornella’s work. The Spanish illustrator’s comic panel storytelling style is sick in both senses of the word and absolutely worth seeing in person.
The show’s called “Sweet Spoils” and it features other big names in the world of illustration and Instagram-famous fine art: Angela Dalinger, Nate Otto, and Alex Gamsu Jenkins, to name a few.
Sean Norvet’s majestic oil painting, a centerpiece in the show, is a nod to our post-apocalyptic mind fuck. There’s so much to feed our face, so much to distract us, we can’t see that everything around us melting away.
Or maybe we choose to indulge in all of that exactly because we can see what’s happening and it’s overwhelming. Which came first: the content or the binge?
Whether it’s Jim Ether’s playful fat-cat flies atop steaming piles of shit or Brandon Celi’s desolate spaces — where, when inhabited, his listless subjects go through the motions — this show is a testament to the fact that our modern melancholy can also look cool as fuck.
“Sweet Spoils” is on view at Miishkooki through Oct. 21.