Magazine article Artforum International

Dave Muller

Magazine article Artforum International

Dave Muller

Article excerpt

BLUM & POE

Sometime in the 1990s, the critical mandate of the prior decade's "appropriation an" underwent a casual revision by an emerging generation less inclined to feel itself victimized by the "society of the spectacle." Pop-cultural citation would continue apace, but in a less anxious, less clinical manner, one that evoked an element of personal investment. Overall, Dave Muller's work could serve as a case in point, especially his latest exhibition, "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah." Deriving this insistently affirmative title from the Beatles' 1963 song "She Loves You," the Los Angeles-based artist focused on the era of the band's rise to mania-inducing superstardom and presented a range of that decade's collectibles, ephemera, and iconography--from notable record sleeves to smiley-face buttons to a portrait of Ed Sullivan.

Muller rendered the imagery with his characteristically light and friendly touch, in watered-down acrylic on paper. Its collective impact, however, was anything but anodyne. For instance, the head-on depiction of a fighter plane in Not Strangelove (all works cited, 2012) tips toward critique (perhaps relating to the Beatles' dalliance with the protest song) when placed in dialogue with Little (Ed)--the aforementioned Sullivan portrait, which, overwritten with four boldface YEAHS, seemed suggestive of the Fab Four's "conquest of America." Other pieces spoke more obliquely to the cultural moment, including Labyrinths (Forking Paths), a modest triptych that depicts paperback copies of Borges's 1962 volume of short fiction. Once a college-dorm staple, Borges's titles, commonly found on a shelf just above the likewise "trippy" record collection, used to boast a certain coun-tercultural cachet.

But by every indication, cultural products no longer neatly signify this way. Vaporized as concrete things to take up a second life in the cloud, they have only become increasingly interchangeable. In the act of reproducing these various relics of the not-so-distant past, Muller commemorated a time when social identifiers were implicitly territorial. Yet nostalgia here served less to remind us of how things once were than to articulate the way they are now. …

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