Renowned Sydney artist James Powditch transforms the detritus of our urban surrounds into bold interrogations of history, politics, environmentalism, pop culture and religion. The artist’s new collection, ‘Tipping Point’, interrogates contemporary political regimes where exploitative new paradigms have birthed ‘the brink of a new Dark Age’. In an inauspicious allusion to the Book of Revelation – which describes angels sounding seven trumpets to cue apocalyptic events – Powditch has crafted a series of trumpets to emblemise the potential calamities that await us. He began the Trumpet series the night of the U.S election ‘as almost a visceral response to my sense of impending doom.’ For the artist, Trump personifies a new breed of leader heralding a dystopian paradigm in which the values of love, humanism and truth are evaporating from a crucible of irrationality and superstition via the exploitation of information dissemination. Each of Trump’s propagandist tweets flowing to millions of people, unfiltered and untested, ‘feels like the sounding of Trumpets heralding the Apocalypse’ says Powditch. Many of the trumpets are like distorted crosses or malformed angel wings, reiterating the biblical warning and suggesting a deformation of traditional values.
In the Trumpet assemblages and other mixed media works, celluloid film canisters and stamps are tropes for conventional means of circulating information in grim contrast to the flippant and dangerous immediacy of social media and the Internet. Meanwhile, rulers and tape measures connote empirical, scientific reality, countering the constellation of irrationality and superstition that orbits our political and cultural spheres. Paradoxically, ‘Tipping Point’ is also about love – albeit the love that we are losing. Fragments of text from literature classics embedded with humanist themes excavate the intrinsic goodness at the heart of humanity. In this way, the works ultimately evince the nexus between the waning value of love amidst the burgeoning tide of cultural ruin.