by Christopher Hutchinson
While attending Art Basel Miami 2014, the buzz was about the Andre 3000 exhibition of his 47 jumpsuits, “I feel ya.” This review is about the unwarranted buzz surrounding this exhibition due to an incomplete concept and a focus on quantity.
“Outkast is art, and it’s as simple as that. Even when Big Boi and Andre 3000 aren’t on the mic, they are creating and expressing themselves. On Tuesday evening (Dec.2), Art Basel Miami Beach opened up the talked about exhibit with 47 jumpsuits previously worn by Three Stacks. Simply titled “i feel ya: SCAD + André 3000 Benjamin,” the installation is happening now at The Savannah College of Art and Design Museum’s pop-up at Mana Miami. To go along with Andre’s jumpsuit display, filmaker Greg Brunkalla created a short movie with 3000’s quotes as subtitles. The “i feel ya” exhibition will run until Dec. 7.” http://sandrarose.com/2014/12/andre-3000s-custom-jumpsuits-on-display-at-art-basel/
47 Jumpsuits VS Body of work
“Often listed as a contender for greatest living rapper, Andre made his legacy alongside Big Boi as one half of the southern hip hop duo OutKast. “Hey Ya” is decidedly their most popular and recognizable track, but check out verse 4 on the title track of their highly acclaimed 1998 album Aquemini. This is a small sample of Andre’s poetic style and unparalleled rhyming abilities”. http://genius.com/artists/Andre-3000
As great a lyricist as Andre 3000 is, the fact is that this project of 47 jumpsuits is not art. It is so remedial that it asks the ubiquitous introduction to art appreciation class question— what is art? The 47 jumpsuits fits all the categories that identify what art is not. The first point to be addressed is the need for 47 different jumpsuits. This is a rookie mistake that all artists encounter, the belief that the amount produced adds to the artworks significance. It does not. There is a big difference between quantity and art. The arbitrary “47” jumpsuits are a means to an end. Not an actual interest in text, documentation, material, performance, sculptures and designs. It’s a poor idea with money backing it. Andre’s notoriety has certainly contributed to the obvious lack of artistic choices made purely and simply because we are fans of his. When “ I feel Ya” is examined without those rose colored glasses, it fails.
Text & Documentation
Adrian Piper’s calling card 1986 is a perfect example of a text-based work that does not need anything else to be powerful. Couldn’t text alone satisfy the task of the “I feel ya” project? Students often feel the need to add and add without taking the proper time to evaluate what each medium has to offer. Professor K. Jill Johnson asked me in undergrad, “You’re always adding, have you ever considered subtracting?” Artists that fulfill the urge to make, and make, and make–continually adding–often end up with a bunch of clichéd references that lead away from his or her concept, not clarifying it. Andre 3000 is known as a lyricist, a storyteller, yet “I feel ya” is saturated with clichéd quotes and anecdotes. It is a betrayal of his own work. “I feel ya” is so cliché that it’s about being a collectible product rather than documentation.
Material & Performance
Nick Cave’s sound suits work as static objects as well as kinetic performance pieces. Cave has explored material and its integral part of his praxis. Material should be married to concept for a cohesive honest dialogue. Does “ I feel ya” explore material and performance enough to be separate from a t-shirt? Do we need to pay attention to Andre 3000’s specificity of jump suits or is it a gimmick that amounts to nothing more than Macaulay Culkin T-Shirt Inception or the “ I can’t breathe” campaign.
SCAD + Andre 3000
The most impressive achievement is how well this concept is received and supported. To be featured by the Savannah College of Art & Design space at MANA during Art Basel 2014 is a great honor, an honor it doesn’t deserve and frankly brings into question the artistic integrity of SCAD.
Christopher Hutchinson is an Assistant Professor of Art at Atlanta Metropolitan State College, Archetype Art Gallery Owner in Atlanta, Ga, and Smoke School of Art Founder. He received his Master of Fine Arts Degree in Painting from Savannah College of art & Design, Atlanta and his Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Alabama. He lived in Alabama for 10 years before moving to Atlanta in 2008.
Learn more about Christopher and his work at Black Flight 144.