Sandy Skoglund is a bodacious voice that sucker punches through our digital age, shattering Photoshop with her sheer tenacity and patient hand. Her work reflects a dystopia that resonates both within contemporary culture, as well as when she first began in the 70’s. This Surrealist Photographer & Installation artist uses elaborate tableaux, hand sculpted props and up to nine months of awe inspiring obsession to create her installations. Popcorn, meat, eggs & pipe cleaners on mass, multiply until they are her paint. Her education spans across art history, print making, multi media and painting where she distilled a conceptual practice based on repetition and process-orientated art production.
She’s a colour whisperer, spending the keenest moments of her time deciding exact hues and intensities. What will make this red throttle? How can this harmony hum with malaise? Colour is one of the first gateways into the work but what lies underneath simmers more insidiously. Suburban backyards, domestic scenes and office spaces hold their familiar comfort just out of reach under plague proportions and artificiality. There’s also that absurdist humour reminiscent of Claes Oldenburg and Magritte. Amongst the homogenous surrounds & vivid animals it’s the oblivious humans that come off as the goofy bastards.
So can Surrealism ever be political? Her cartoon wonderland’s touch on themes of overpopulation, nuclear war, aging, environmentalism and workplace alienation. Skoglund herself says the seeds are there but it’s up to the beholder whether they read the fear or the funny. For me these pieces are perhaps even more relevant now when the artificial and the digital, violate the raw and the natural like never before. The humans in each scene seem lobotomized within their chaotic worlds. Like frogs in hot water they’ve sat through the simmer and now find themselves beginning to feel the burn. This beholder sees the threat, but finds herself smiling. Perhaps Skoglund has found one of the most effective ways to play with politics.