On view November 18, 2017 - January 20, 2018
1822 State Street, Granite City, Illinois 62040
Teenage Witch
An essay in progress by Brandon Bandy
The explore feed on Instagram in the wild west, vast, wondrous, but I feel as though I’ve seen it before. Within this landscape is the Instagram Girl, a mystical figure who’s photographs and interactions are so carefully considered I begin to wonder about their existence in the natural world. This is the outcome of the democratization of image making, we can create our own image, a being separate from our own. This has lead the way for a sort of “no stakes” cultural appropriation where all are free to pick and choose elements from various subcultures to enhance their own personality. The Thrasher t-shirt is the ideal representation of this phenomenon, previously reserved for those who skate it has become an autonomous symbol of “cool”.
“to date, the Archies are the only fictional band to ever top Billboard's year-end pop chart, as "Sugar, Sugar" was the top-selling song in America in 1969. Perhaps that will change in a future when we consume holographic pop stars in virtual reality, but for now the record belongs to Archie, Jughead, Reggie, Betty and Veronica.”
(10 Sweet Things You Never Knew About the Archies, metv.com)
Bubblegum pop has infiltrated society once again. Starting around 2010, artists such as Sophie, Hannah Diamond, QT, Spinee, Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, and Poppy, began to re-establish the bubblegum pop methodology. In some cases the records produced by these musicians transcend the artists that create them requiring a facade, an equally appealing personality to accompany them. The Archies never could have been human, they required perfection, characters that flawlessly personified their candy coated lyrics.
cowgirl nympho, 2017
mounted digital c-print

teenage witch, 2017
inkjet print
teenage witch (detail)
symbols of American gaiety, 2017
risograph print on wooden panel

untitled (bumper sticker painting), 2017
vinyl sticker and acrylic on canvas
untitled (bumper sticker painting) (detail)
symbols of American gaiety (detail)
strawberry milk, 2013-2017
inkjet prints on plywood
strawberry milk (detail)
symbols of American gaiety, 2017
cam girl, 2017
karaoke, 2017
suggested for you, 2017
karaoke, 2017
looping video and audio
symbols of American gaiety, 2017
risograph prints on wooden panel

cam girl, 2017
inkjet prints on wooden panel
cam girl (detail)
symbols of American gaiety (detail)
suggested for you, 2017
vinyl decal, vinyl sticker, glitter enamel, and acrylic on canvas

222 O'Fallon Plaza, 2017
oil on canvas
suggested for you (detail)
222 O'Fallon Plaza (detail)
pop singer, youtube star, cult leader, 2017
concrete, fruit stripes gum
pop singer, youtube star, cult leader (detail)
You Make My Heart Go Giddy Up
Essay by Charlotte Gavin
The strong visual and euphoric associations of “bubblegum” have fueled a media empire that has expanded from its roots of the late mid-20th century cultural boom of palatable bubblegum pop music. The range of splendid connotations “bubblegum” carries is impossible to deny: the word oozes a cornucopia of sweet, visual pleasure that flashes glossy, gooey, pastel imagery all working to signify a greater phantasm of a light hearted, Utopian America. 
The term “bubblegum pop” was originally coined by two music producers as a marketing tool for capitalizing on the 1960s/1970s youth culture via the upbeat “ooey gooey chewy” and radiant sound of songs such as Sugar Sugar by The Archies, Chewy Chewy by Ohio Express, Sunshine Day by the Brady Bunch. These exuberant tunes encapsulated the short and sweet nature of bubblegum pop that was well received among impressionable teenagers who easily succumbed to the genre’s mouth-watering hypnosis (I am watching the Brady Bunch music video for Sunshine Day as I write this and I can hardly contain my GLEE <3 ). These songs used the connotations of  “bubblegum” to preach happiness, dreamy love, and colorful fantasies--an approach that has since prevailed in the consumer market, subsequently setting the stage for the postmodern internet and visual culture. ​​​​​​​
As society continues to advance technologically and warp politically,  life becomes a cluster of media spectacles emerging from the culture of social media and its capitalist-driven phenomena. The users behind visual platforms such as Tumblr and Instagram have managed to develop various facets of popular imagery alluding to the alluring characteristics of bubblegum pop and the construction of an amplified, romanticized American identity. The birth of internet culture has made it easier for everyone to curate their own visual fantasies-- both for themselves and their passive viewer or “follower.” Instead of previously consuming the sweet sensation of bubblegum pop restricted to popular music and video, we are now controlled by a greater multitude of media outlets where practically everything is a manufactured spectacle working to contain an illusion of reality.

Sunshine wrapped in rainbows
Passionate scenes abound
Drifting on an island
Bubblegum forms a sound
Hold it in your hand
Pop it in your mouth
On a merry-go-round of make believe 

Ariel Pink “Bubblegum Dreams”
Dedicated to Bobby Jameson, 2017