Critics’ Picks

Invaders (Invasores del espacio), 2008, ink-jet print on die-cut aluminum, 30 x 20".

New Orleans

David Sullivan

Barrister's Gallery
2331 St. Claude Ave.
March 8–April 5

David Sullivan’s exhibition, “You Win,” playfully and provocatively utilizes a variety of digital media and animation. Like any successful satirist, Sullivan executes his visual commentary on consumer culture through its own modes of production. Vibrant prints on die-cut aluminum showcase icons from early arcade games, while two animations, Market Drop and Boom, both 2007, depict the effects of our country’s cultural and political exports. The show fulfills its promising title, as viewers are invited to interact with a custom-designed arcade game reduced to its essential function in providing self-gratification. Everyone is a winner—a fact that denies a hierarchical status and notions of individual success.

Sullivan retools these pop-culture archetypes to address current sociopolitical issues. In Invaders (Invasores del espacio), 2008, clunky, primary-colored arcade aliens layered with imagery from the Mexican flag and border signage evoke questions of immigration. One of Sullivan’s recurrent characters is a Rich Uncle Pennybags type with no face, only a large, toothy mouth; like the Monopoly icon, he is regarded as the ultimate consumer and victorious tycoon. In You Win, 2008, golden coins blink in the sky as symbols for success readily attainable through an annihilation of virtual enemies within the arcade-game world that the artist has customized and simplified. These entertainment sources often reflect societal values: status, wealth, and instant gratification by any means. Sullivan creates alluring image-laden mock-ups that demand our attention for all the same reasons their influential consumer-driven products do. In You Win, Sullivan cleverly raises questions of what underpins culturally sanctioned definitions of success through a visual vocabulary already ingrained in our collective consciousness.