Critics’ Picks

Michael Fullerton, Marie Carré Gets Spanked, 2019, silk screen on newsprint with Giesma stain, 70 x 51".

Michael Fullerton, Marie Carré Gets Spanked, 2019, silk screen on newsprint with Giesma stain, 70 x 51".


Michael Fullerton

Kendall Koppe
36-38 Coburg Street
April 12–May 18, 2019

At the back of Koppe Astner’s new space south of the river, an electric current runs across a wall of compact discs. This current, in Michael Fullerton’s Chattanooga Nuclear Genocide (all works 2019), slowly and invisibly corrupts the data on the discs, rendering them unusable. Indeed, an abiding theme in “Tales from the Anglosphere” is that of loss—of friends and memory, both digital and human. Each work on view is accompanied by commentary in the press release, penned by the artist, which provides a disorienting mix of historical information and methodological explanation. The effect is to variously explain or undermine the apparent meaning in the portraits, which Fullerton has painted in a traditional style that belies their references to internet gossip and debates—Harry Potter’s involvement in propagating anti-Christian ideology, for example, or Paris Hilton’s search for a sperm donor.

Secular Humanist on Suicide Watch mimics the text-and-image mash-ups of memes while making direct reference to twitter trolling. The interaction of words with the diverse pictures place love, sex, death, and religion within the rubric of data exchange and loss, except, perhaps, in Catholic School Portrait (Kevin Hutcheson, 1978), which offers a poignant reflection on the death of a friend. However, this work, too, points to the manner in which the intimate and painful are caught up in the general and ideological. The disarming connections in Fullerton’s text interrupt the viewer’s process of interpretation, provoking a new relationship to subjects which might be easily dismissed but, under his treatment, reveal new satirical commentary and complexities. The undercurrent is anxiety around the discussion and distribution of information on the Web. Fullerton has held up a black mirror.