Whiteness: Zulu and Zulu Demon City
October 13- November 4, 2011
Andrew Roth is pleased to announce the opening of “Whiteness: Zulu and Zulu Demon City,” a one-person exhibition by Harsh Patel consisting of an eclectic assortment of printed matter — graphic design in service of no end user — consisting of 19 items: books, posters, a flag, shopping bags, and postcards; produced in a limited edition of seven, housed in a silkscreened box.
Patel utilizes existing brands, appropriated imagery and ideas, visuals and texts created by artist and poet friends for his labels Zulu and Zulu Demon City (ZDC). Zulu, consisting of 11 items, was produced one year ago for Motto book fair in Berlin. ZDC, consisting of seven items, was issued by subscription only beginning in February of this year and completed for this exhibition. In addition, Patel produced a limited-edition shopping bag commemorating the end of the two labels.
Patel’s methodology references fashion design, advertising, branding, and small press production. It finds its roots with such artists as Wallace Berman, George Maciunas, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Peter Saville, Yohji Yamamoto, and Scott King. Born in Kenya to Indian parents, he grew up in Texas and is now based in Los Angeles. He witnesses his culture and environment as a pathological outsider, recycling and filtering his experience into hybrid aesthetics of austerity.
At first glance much of this material appears as advertising campaign, slick, high-production value (though generally handmade), seamless packaging, deliberate and formal. But this guise conceals Patel’s deeply personal and political concerns: colonialism, racism, mysticism and a profound respect for a community of like minds. Imbedded in his elegant, streamlined graphics is the Union Jack flag, a photograph of the gunmen from the Columbine massacre after their suicide, design based on damaged banana skins as camouflage, primitive African sculpture surrounded by manned drones, all of which are “flattened,” coalescing into delicate, printed matter.
Like Wallace Berman in his production of Semina, Patel controls all aspects of design, fabrication, and distribution. To date, these labels have been offered for sale for short periods of time (a weekend) or through subscription only (during the course of one week) then removed from public access. Items are more generally reserved for friends and often elements are redacted and reclaimed by the artist. We are very pleased to present, for the first time, these two enigmatic labels in their entirety and for sale.
Harsh Patel exhibits with Young Art in Los Angeles; this year, he was a recipient of Printed Matter’s Awards for Artists.