What can be said of the role of hyperbole in our misinformation-saturated present? What is the utility of the willfully exaggerated, long a tenet of political rhetoric, in a moment teeming with “crooked” this and “-gate” suffixed that? Erin Hayden’s solo exhibition, “Your Hyperbole Could Be A Screensaver” at Randy Alexander Gallery traffics in the magnified overstatement, bringing to fore our “post-truth” moment as its medium.
Aptly, Hayden mediates this conversation largely through the vernacular of technology aesthetics. She has painted over computer desktop landscapes with a variety of reactionary slogans and symbols best realized in the exhibition’s main event—if not by virtue of content, then at least scale—a thirty-foot-long canvas titled “Bliss.” Foregrounding pastoral fields at sundown and mountaintops are phrases such as “no thanks,” various painted squiggles that resemble party confetti and a number of brightly colored dinosaurs. “Bliss” is simultaneously a rejection of a possible digital sublime and a flagrant celebration of its aesthetics, invoking a critical relationship with art in the age of internet ubiquity.
In another work, Hayden paints a literal gray area: a pentaptych painting, “The Sink is Your Drink,” consisting of five landscapes painted over with party hats and noisemakers, the canvases surrounded by thirty clouds colored three shades of gray. In a short video titled “Your Text,” Hayden exploits the generic templates found in video editing software. She has also made a book of poems, “sick and tired of being sick and tired.” All are beautiful contemporary forays into the porousness of language, like Gertrude Stein on Instagram.
The patron saints of poststructuralism rightfully explicated the loss of intention through the process of consumption, prompting all manner of cultural purveyors—artists and politicians alike—to embrace and exploit the situation in a poetic of subjective meaning-making. Equal parts coconut cream and dynamite, Hayden’s exhibition makes this its confection: for the pie isn’t only a dessert, but a potential missile to the face. (Chris Reeves)
Through February 18 at Randy Alexander Gallery, 1926 South Wabash
Chris Reeves is a creative researcher and artist who received his PhD in Art History from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2021. In 2020 he co-edited his first book, “The World’s Worst: A Guide to the Portsmouth Sinfonia” released on Soberscove Press.