new-york

Julia Wachtel, Time and Again, 2014, oil and screenprint on canvas, 60 × 93 1/2".

Julia Wachtel

Elizabeth Dee Gallery

Julia Wachtel, Time and Again, 2014, oil and screenprint on canvas, 60 × 93 1/2".

In Stripe, 2014, the friezelike centerpiece of her recent exhibition “Empowerment,” Julia Wachtel pairs silk-screened images of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un with painted cartoons of South Korean pop star Psy, singer of the once ubiquitous “Gangnam Style.” The juxtaposition is cemented visually by the gray band that gives the work its title. In comparing these figures, the artist prompts us to ask where real power lies—totalitarian military might or Web-age celebrity—and how the mass media work to reinforce or undermine its status. It’s an area that Wachtel, influenced by the Pictures generation, has been exploring since the 1980s.

Wachtel began appropriating cartoons in her earliest works, borrowing them from cheap greeting cards to comment on our psychosocial condition as consumers of images and goods. This strategy remains central to her visual language, the often

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