Under My Skin
collaboration with Kara Stokowski
curated by Courtney Moy
Step2 Sweetheart playhouse (panel), Disney television, remote control, 8 min video loop, latex mask, mannequin head, kitchen gloves, acrylic, fringe, clay, wire
Based on Abduction (Entführung), an etching by Max Klinger from the 1881 series Paraphrase on the Finding of a Glove, our installation captures a symbolic moment of domestic crisis as a pair of kitchen gloves desperately reach out from a window, grasping at air while the disembodied head of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan makes away with their television remote control in its teeth.
A pink Disney-brand television set adjacent to this scene plays Trilogy, a suite of videos found on the Youtube channel of “Dr. Fallon”, a media ecologist with insider experience in the commercial broadcasting network industry. The videos (1983-1990) offer a disquieting mixture of banality and violence--discordant images edited to a saccharine, upbeat NBC promotional jingle, “Let’s All Be There”.
The Cable Communications Act of 1984, passed during Ronald Reagan’s first term in office, was created in order to deregulate the cable industry and open it up to laissez-faire style competition. The effects of this legislation were keenly felt in the world of children’s programming, as education value went down and profit-driven shows often derived from merchandizing became the norm. The majority of children’s television effectively became “program length commercials”, with the Reagan-appointed head of the Federal Communications Commission, Mark Fowler, urging citizens to remember that "It's time to move away from thinking of broadcasters as trustees and time to treat them the way that everyone else in this society does, that is, as a business. Television is just another appliance. It's a toaster with pictures."
Deconstructing the relationship between Reagan-era deregulatory policies and our generation’s attitudes toward consumption, wealth accumulation, and market-derived happiness is part of Kara Stokowski and Ian Deleón’s daily practice--an ongoing collaboration that began with the project Nostalgia//Economics.