Danielle Gustafson-Sundell: Kavi Gupta Gallery

By Elms, Anthony | Artforum International, November 2007 | Go to article overview

Danielle Gustafson-Sundell: Kavi Gupta Gallery


Elms, Anthony, Artforum International


The cacophony of competing desires and calls to action--slogans on shopping bags and T-shirts, billboards and bumper stickers--forms a jumbled populist backdrop to our everyday routines. The appeal to aspiration behind the assault is crucial, its demands linked to signifiers of identity. In Danielle Gustafson-Sundell's recent solo exhibition, "it's midnight and i'm lonely," the artist arranged eighty-nine of these sayings--rendered in a range of scruffy but vibrantly colored materials, including felt, denim, corduroy, and wool--around the gallery walls. As the statements competed for hearts and minds, their scale varied widely and their meanings were sometimes opaque. EXTINCT IS FOREVER and I'M HAVING A SIX-PACK ATTACK proclaim their allegiances directly enough; less easily placed are certain questions--IS YOUR KID IN THIS BOX? or WHO NEEDS BRAINS WHEN YOU'VE GOT THESE? Reading across the walls thus rapidly locates shortcomings of the blunt slogan as a communicator of complex values.

Gustafson-Sundell smartly handcrafts her replicas in a style reminiscent of school or church banners, perhaps subtly influenced by Sister Corita Kent's graphic design. Adhering roughly to the typefaces of the original models, the artist admits the occasional whiff of dated-ness--in a slightly rounded I or the digital blotchiness of an S. The funky imperfection of the fabric letters undercuts any anthropological affect--shifts in color and fabric disrupt the meaning and voice of each phrase. These decisions, coupled with the ramshackle nature of Gustafson-Sundell's attempts to replicate typefaces, make the texts resemble the spilled contents of a junk drawer. Presenting the texts flat against the wall, she pressurizes the rhythm, timing, and relations between words. …

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