During a trip to The Met Museum in New York I came across a hollow Guatemalan figurine – a host figure made in the 5th to 7th century – it has a removable chest plate that reveals a diminutive spirit figure who drives the actions and intentions of its host. I reflected on the things that shape our thoughts and actions today, and particularly gender specific toys and sweets because they influence behaviour from an early age.
The title also references John Carpenter’s 1989 film ‘They Live’, a dystopian cult film set in Los Angeles during a time of extreme social inequality characterised by high unemployment and conspicuous consumption. In the film, special sunglasses enable the wearer to see the true messages of advertising and mass media: ‘consume’ and ‘obey’. I have always viewed the film as a instruction – that art should reveal things that are usually opaque or hidden from view. Host Figures (They Live) are produced as lenticular prints so that they also reveal the commodity ‘spirits’ and branding ‘commands’ that influence our actions and beliefs.
HOST FIGURES (THEY LIVE)