More Works: Bush Years
The collages (Bush Years 2001-2007) are a series of works by Paula Gillen. She refers to them as “eye candy.” Perhaps because we are lulled into a sense of juvenile joy, by their bright, densely packed colors. But prematurely, and only for a moment before the political message bubbles to the surface through the layers of snapshots, advertisements, graffiti, pornography - downloaded, drawn, stolen and spliced images.
Gillen gives us a thumbnail sketch of the visually dense world we have to decode on a daily basis in this digital age. Images of the torture of Iraqi prisoners blend with jovial American street scenes, domesticating the horror of torture, making it smaller, making it less. She comments on the rapid technological advancements of our time, while simultaneously invoking the German phobia of platzangst - the feeling that we have made no progress at all.
If spin has a façade, Gillen’s collages show us that it is not what is hidden, but what is in front of our eyes everyday, that should terrify us.
---Carmel McMahon – Critic 2007
Living in NYC after 9-11 my collages in this series interpret a roller coaster of emotions and anguish over lost and damaged lives here and in Iraq. Reflected in the works is a country expressing an outpouring of patriotism, divided and at war. The backdrop is capitalism with a layer of fundamentalism and terrorism on top. Within the digital landscape even victims of torture are reduced to just another element to jog by. Shop, look pretty and mind that suspicious package. Orange Alert! Nerves are on edge. I work in Time Square. The visual and auditory density of the area demands simultaneous attention. Noise, blinking signs, bright neon, cars, people, media and advertising messages all pile one on top of the other. Like flipping channels on TV or watching an action movie your mind and eyes are forced to multitask and absorb random information in a disjointed manner. Times Square with all its speed, pressure and eye candy is mixed with underlying emotions of fear and sadness. Using photos, graphic shapes, symbols and signs I merge visual elements into collages that suggest a social and political landscape where exuberant and constraining forces mingle. –– Paula Gillen 2007