Multidisciplinary artist, Cali DeWitt runs the independent record label Teenage Teardrops, together with his wife Jenna Thornhill DeWitt they also have the photography blog Witch Hat. I learned about DeWitt’s works last year, in occasion of a series of photos he worked on, for an interview I wrote for REVS magazine. Born in Canada, 1973, Cali Thornhill DeWitt lives and works in Los Angeles. We both collaborated closely with Danish label Posh Isolation on various endeavors: he has directed numerous music videos, recently the one for Danish band Iceage. Several books on his work have been published, the most recent one, Grave Yard came out in late 2014 on And Press. Plus, he has recently had exhibitions at Big Love, Tokyo, Human Resources, Los Angeles and Muddguts in New York.
The duality of the piece is typical for Cali Dewitt’s practice juxtaposing imagery culled from the internet and other archival sources with word plays lifted from news headlines, spam mail, advertising slogans, street lingo, mundane phrases and a myriad of other influences. Diverting messages such as: GLORY HOLE combined with a photo of a bullet hole, RAPID DECLINE in combination with an image of a beautiful bouquet of lilies, NATIONAL ANTHEM combined with a sequence of images from the Rodney King beating, BUILD MORE JAILS juxtaposed against an eerily beautiful image of the Hollywood Hills burning and SMELL THE ROSES in combination with a flock of B52 planes dropping their payload of death. The exhibition explains immediately the concept of “A subversive and heartfelt result, with a strong signature aesthetic equally punk, internet banner and realtor” mentioned in the press release.
Busted On The Hot Spots is Cali DeWitt’s first exhibition with V1 Gallery. Strong imagery that we have grown accustomed to is re-contextualized among the meatpacking walls of Copenhagen. The broken American dream in Europe. An exhibition defined as “immersing”, reflecting a complex and fragmented world, that instead of fostering first world apathy or nihilism, induces defiance and hope in the visitors. In the same tradition as Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, John Giorno and the late great Mike Kelly, Cali DeWitt’s works offer reflection, social critique and engagement. Strategies from advertising and breaking news that we know and are almost immune to, are turned so that each message and work stand out with lasting urgency.