Locust Jones’s installation “Elevating a Disastrous Situation into a Catastrophe” was a hiccupping regurgitation of the omnipresent media buffet. Jones hand-copies and amalgamates news text and image clippings in rude homemade ways that undercut coherent reading. Nonsensical phrases such as “the wheel turns pollution threat bribes,” “the quiet coup how the crash will reshape” and “amateurish operation developmental aid chaos” mingle with media image burlesques: a caricature resembling British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, for instance, placed among gaunt figures that would be at home in an outback petroglyph.
Eight papier-mâché spheres, each 30 inches in diameter, populated a large open gallery in MOP’s sprawling exhibition space. Most offered variations on world globes—either painted with blue oceans and fancifully delineated landmasses or lined with black latitude and longitude grids. Others are wrapped in paper strips mimicking teletype and scrawled with Jones’s chicken-scratch lettering. Roughly drawn faces and figures appear randomly on the spheres as well. Splashes of translucent ink washes in primary colors contribute dishevelment rather than calculated chromatic play. Drunkenly navigating a long back wall, horizontal lines of more handwritten text provided an insistently stuttering 40-by-240-inch backdrop for the ensemble. On the side walls, two 30-by-40-inch works on paper presented additional manically inelegant globes embellished with drips and spatters of ink.
New Zealand-born (in 1963), Jones has lived in Australia for 17 years and has been exhibiting internationally since 1993; he began creative life as a woodblock printer. In recent bodies of work he forsakes conventional inking implements for large, nozzled veterinary syringes and splinter-ended sticks, divorcing his marks from the graphic rectitude of their sources. While the professional news media employ the latest technology and styles to render their messages all the more affective, Jones matches hyperbole and emotional color with strident dispatches that recall rant-bearing screeds of the kind pasted to urban lampposts. With the élan of a fleet and showy loser, he distinguishes his mash-ups from the work of a host of young artists who endeavor to deal subversively with news media. In doing so, Jones exposes his 300-pound opponent’s ponderous and predictable manner.
Photo: View of Locust Jones’s exhibition “Elevating a Disastrous Situation into a Catastrophe,” 2010; at MOP Projects.