The imperative of youthfulness is an omnipresent phenomenon in our western media landscape, which often has far-reaching effects into our everyday personal lives. This imperative is inherent in all aspects of media, not only advertising, and is hard to evade.
A mail-out from the Labour Party during the 2008 election campaign presents our (then) Prime Minister with an immaculate smile fit for a toothpaste advert, and about 25 years or so removed off her actual age. It is unlikely Helen herself thought her image requires alteration to better fit a general stereotype of youthfulness and physical attraction.
How ready are we to accept a polished lie as substitute for a reality which may or may not match our ideas? And where do these ideas come from, how do they enter our minds? Is it ethical for people in PR companies to assume we require a polished image of our leader to be more likely to vote for her? Decisions like this (to doctor her image) all contribute to condition us in accepting lies, so we end up preferring to believe in fabricated images over facing reality. This conditioning drives us further into a state of hallucination and alienates us from the world we actually live in.
The artist’s interpretation is a light-hearted yet deeply meaningful, colourful take on this complex topic. He extends the ‘youthfulness-makeover’ to an extremity in a fun way by adding the “Marilyn Monroe Warhol makeover” on top. The Helen prints are a series of different multi-coloured limited editions.They are large screen printed works on paper (750 mm x 750 mm) and reference the famous Marylin series by Andy Warhol, a work done in the same medium in the later half of the 20th century. At an early stage these also focussed on the mechanisms and power of today’s more and more image-driven media industry.
The Helen prints are hand screen printed by the artist himself. The editions are small, and each print is numbered and signed.