One seminal pop musician. One major public event. Two 'where-were-you-when-it-happened' tragedies, made even more tragic by a subliminal sense of shame, the sneaking suspicion that we had contributed to the demise of a pop icon and the disintegration of an American dream by supercharging them with social importance.
In his confronting new exhibition, Daniel Askill juxtaposes the death of the 'King of Pop', Michael Jackson, with the atrocities of 9/11. His premise is that we have created a world of false idolatry where images, scenes and people zoom in and out of focus depending on popular perception, rather than inherent importance. Askill's recurrent theme explored in We Have Decided Not to Die and Artefacts From The Fifth Ritual is that contemporary culture has become a profit driven industry which blatantly and unapologetically follows the same rules of production as any other producer of commodities. Askill contends that the growth of capitalism and the growth of mass entertainment are inextricably intertwined, leading to an indiscriminate whorl of 'modern worship.' Through a large-scale, looping installation, Askill uses slow motion video tableaux to replicate the way major events are played out in mass media.
Modern Worship deals with how social fragmentation undermines any sense of cultural community because, in Yeats' words, the "centre cannot hold". Through his art, Askill exposes how human tragedies become hyper-reality, and how cultural exploitation is so much a factor in the destruction of public ideals.