A self-described ‘suburban artist’, 29-year-old Connecticut based Gordon Holden is a product of the if you can’t beat it, join it internet generation. His crudely made digital collages, that he posts on his website, depict generalised capitalist dreams cut through with something more sinister. He uses humour to expose the veneer of American consumer complacency, debunking iconic US brands such as Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Disney in a superficially playful style that nonetheless points at a deep distrust of their invidious grip on the American psyche. Deliberately disposable, his work challenges the ubiquity and cynicism of consumerist society while questioning how art can function within it
Everything is about entertainment and the fact that everyone is trying to sell you something all of the time. It can be tough to tell what is good and what isn’t and, because of that, we all feel that we need something more, more everything. It’s not about talent or being gifted, it’s about who can light themselves on fire first and do a tap dance with a Darth Vader Helmet on; because that’s entertainment. When I was at Art Basel in Miami last December, I remember seeing a crowd of people gathered around a work that was made of tin letters mounted on the wall that spelled out ‘motherfucker’, and I overheard a man say, “Oh my, that’s so subversive”. I thought to myself, ‘Wow dude, have you ever been on the internet? at place is like the Wild West.’ My guess is that he has, but stayed on the horse trail.
I’ll work with anything if it feels right when I start to do it. It has a lot to do with feelings. I don’t see the outcome of a work being better or more profound if I spend two months on it. It just means I wasted a lot of time making it. Unless wasting time is the intention. If it doesn’t feel right in the rst 20 seconds I usually stop. Everything has to come from somewhere and using found objects is just easier and more convenient. Sometimes I do generate my own images, like paintings. I never spend more than 20 minutes on them. Some people say I’m lazy, but that’s kind of the idea.
There are things I create for me, and things I create for everyone else. I really enjoy the meaning of something and not having to explain it. Using found objects gives you the ability to do that because they already have an inherent meaning. I think it’s seeing something different in something that already exists, putting something else in it, calling it something different and trying to sell it.
You could call Consume Cool a bumper sticker. The actual concept for the sticker was to try and compete with the idea of branding by using one of, if not the most popular branding identity. In todays world people aren’t drawn to something that is interesting they’re drawn to something that is identifiable. It’s kind of the basics of herd mentality, to get someones attention, use what they already know in a popular sense.
I used to say “I want the viewer to feel this, and think of that” but I realised that isn’t my job. I can try to guide the viewer’s thoughts by piecing together words and imagery, but sometimes that feels too forced. I just want them to look at it.
I started off with creating a website and a blog but not knowing what to put on it, so I started making things like T-shirts and postcards, more product-oriented content, and then it transformed more into photos, GIF images, appropriated objects, paintings, etc. Now, the online store is part of a wider concept and acts more as a performance piece, while still being a shop.
The way I see it, as the internet evolves, the user evolves, and sometimes becomes more a part of the internet as opposed to using it simply as a tool. If you have Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and Tumblr and Vine and WordPress and LinkedIn and Tinder, you’re playing the game. It’s a love/hate fantasy-based relationship. And I think that’s what keeps everyone coming back.
American culture is very important in my work. It’s fascinating and extremely boring at the same time. All that smoke and mirrors… It’s glamorous from the outside, but disappointing on the inside; but still fun, in a sad, nostalgic kind of way.
I call myself a suburban artist because everyone wants to be from New Yorkor LA or London or Paris. These places are identifiable and cool, you might even say extraordinary. I am ordinary, and that’s what the suburbs are. There is always a turning point when pursuing a career when you have to decide: do you go somewhere to try to make it? or do you stay where you are and try to make it? I’m not saying I haven’t traveled or lived in other places. I have, but going somewhere else used to mean a lot more than it does today. A scene is born out of people sharing ideas, it just so happens that you don’t all have to be in the same place at the same time anymore to share ideas. I love New York and go there often, but I know too many people that have moved to New York with the dream of making it and just ended up partying too much and never being able to pay rent. Trends are changing way too fast these days and when it comes down to it, it’s very hard to maintain being something that you’re not, wherever you are in the world.