Adriana Lara – Smoking Kills at Dairy Art Centre
The Dairy Arts centre opened to the public just over a year ago, and that year that has been fought with highs and lows. Contained in a renovated former Express Dairies milk depot (hence the name), the gallery recently drew mass attention (but not acclaim) for the horrendously bland narcissism-fest that was the Julian Schnabel show. In the first exhibition following the criticised show, people are curious to see how this new exhibition will fare, and whether Dairy can redeem itself as a relevant, contemporary gallery.
This new exhibition showcases the work of Mexican artist Adriana Lara. At first glance it looks to be a parody of typically boring art clichés: you have your rehashed pop adverts with inkjet reproductions of the fronts of cigarette packets, you have your Marilyn–esque pop icon with dollar signs on it, and you have 1930s actress Lupe Velez. Last but not least is the trope-supreme: a monument to the fragility of life and mortality in an arrangement of balloons the shape of a bunch of grapes, set to deflate and turn to raisins over the course of the show. This assumption is challenged once you read the press release and find that this zigzagging of completely different themes and media is deliberate, and her sincerity is not comforting. The title Smoking Kills offers a solution to how they can possibly be perceived together but the link is tenuous at best. Perhaps shown separately these pieces could have worked, but together the themes of appropriating commercial design, ambiguity for ambiguity’s sake, and death (respectively), don’t really make any sense, especially within the rather cramped rooms of Dairy’s smaller exhibition space.
It’s not a bad show. The time-based nature of Grapes/Raisins (deflating completely over the course of a month) suggests that the piece will look unique any day that one chooses to view it, and that has seized enough of my interest and curiosity to warrant a second if not third visit. While the exhibition may be captivating, it’s not necessarily for the right reasons.
Adriana Lara: Smoking Kills is on at Dairy Art Centre from 6th August until 14th September 2014, for further information visit here.