Designer detritus: artist Alex Da Corte makes the everyday extraordinary

Hammer Museum show
Opening tomorrow, Alex Da Corte’s new off-site Hammer Museum show is a site-specific multimedia installation, incorporating a survey of recent video work. Pictured: Delirium I, David Risley Gallery, Copenhagen, 2014
(Image credit: Alex Da Corte)

What do we want from the stuff we use, and what do we feel when we use it? From dollar store soda, shampoo, IKEA furniture and hair rollers to flour, dirt and plastic food stuffs, Alex Da Corte’s materials are the commonplace detritus of the everyday, and deliberately so. In his searingly colourful videos, paintings, installations or sculptures, the Philadelphia-based artist finds poetry in consumer culture and theatricality in the suburban.

At a solo exhibition opening on 9 July in Los Angeles, Da Corte brings his 360-degree practice to the Hammer Museum, with a new, site-specific multimedia installation, incorporating a survey of recent video work. (Well, almost – it's being presented off-site, at LA's Art + Practice.) This is Da Corte’s second solo exhibition with a US museum this year; his solo at MASS MoCA – 'Free Roses', running until January 2017 – includes a dazzling, 100ft, carefully-constructed installation that speaks of the artist’s interest in sets, stages and surfaces. 'A Season in He’ll' (the title a reference to Arthur Rimbaud’s poem 'A Season in Hell', the inspiration behind a series of works) continues Da Corte’s investigations into the intersection of the visual with the psychological. With a language that is rooted in post-pop and post-internet, the Hammer Museum presentation is perceived as an investigation into the way we filter and apply images and their effect on our psyche. 'A Season in He’ll' distils Western dissatisfaction and bad taste into something that is still artificial, but has a chimerical charge.

'How can this be the better place to live? What is this Coke doing for us? What is this remake of Beauty and the Beast doing for us? What exquisite joy or pain will this peanut butter deliver to us? Who is responsible for change?' Da Corte asks. 'We are responsible for change. We are the sponges that do the dirty dishes. We absorb. We change. We grow. We start again.'

Arthur Rimbaud’s poem 'A Season in Hell'

'A Season in He’ll' (the title a reference to Arthur Rimbaud’s poem 'A Season in Hell') continues Da Corte’s investigations into the intersection of the visual with the psychological. Pictured: Die Hexe, Luxembourg & Dayan, New York, 2015

(Image credit: Alex Da Corte)

dirt and plastic food stuffs

From dollar store soda, shampoo, IKEA furniture and hair rollers to flour, dirt and plastic food stuffs, Da Corte’s materials are the commonplace deitritus of the everyday, and deliberately so. Pictured: Die Hexe, Luxembourg & Dayan, New York, 2015

(Image credit: Alex Da Corte)

colourful videos, paintings, installations or sculptures

In his searingly colourful videos, paintings, installations or sculptures, the Philadelphia-based artist finds poetry in consumer culture and theatricality in the suburban. Pictured: Die Hexe, Luxembourg & Dayan, New York, 2015

(Image credit: Alex Da Corte)

A Season in He’ll

'A Season in He’ll' distils Western dissatisfaction and bad taste into something that is still artificial, but has a chimerical charge. Pictured: Die Hexe, Luxembourg & Dayan, New York, 2015

(Image credit: Alex Da Corte)

Free Roses

This is Da Corte’s second solo exhibition with a US museum this year; his solo at MASS MoCA – 'Free Roses', running until January 2017 – includes a dazzling installation that speaks of the artist’s interest in sets, stages and surfaces. Pictured: Free Roses, MASS MoCA, 2016–2017

(Image credit: Alex Da Corte)

MASS MoCA

Free Roses, MASS MoCA, 2016–2017

(Image credit: Alex Da Corte)

INFORMATION

’A Season in He’ll’ is on view until 17 September. For more information, visit the Hammer Museum website (opens in new tab)

Photography courtesy the artist

ADDRESS

4339 Leimert Boulevard
Los Angeles CA 90008

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Charlotte Jansen is a journalist and the author of two books on photography, Girl on Girl (2017) and Photography Now (2021). She is commissioning editor at Elephant magazine and has written on contemporary art and culture for The Guardian, the Financial Times, ELLE, the British Journal of Photography, Frieze and Artsy. Jansen is also presenter of Dior Talks podcast series, The Female Gaze.