Data Panic

Featuring Pedro Barbeito, Kim Beck, Justen Ladda, Fernando Mastrangelo, and Paul Thek

Curated by Amanda Church and Franklin Evans

Exhibition Dates: March 5 through April 18, 2009
Opening Reception: Saturday, March 7, 4:00 – 6:00pm

Cuchifritos is proud to present “Data Panic,” an exhibition of five artists whose work deals in various ways with breakdown and decay in societal and political contexts, an apt subject during one of the worst worldwide economic crises since the Great Depression.  The artists are Pedro Barbeito, Kim Beck, Justen Ladda, Fernando Mastrangelo, and the late Paul Thek.  “Data Panic” makes reference to “Datapanik in the Year Zero,” a 1996 experimental punk-rock album by the Cleveland-based band Pere Ubu. This seminal album in turn referred to the 1962 film “Panic in Year Zero!” Directed by Ray Milland, the film portrays the panic and subsequent efforts at survivalism of a suburban Los Angeles family in the wake of a nuclear explosion.

It would appear that the general trend of societal optimism of the 1950s and ‘60s that was again heightened during the 1990s has been rapidly eroded and replaced by doubt and mistrust. In a period of extreme uncertainty, we have become accustomed to widespread political deception and financial fraud. Barak Obama’s election may, however, signify a renewal of lost optimism and hope. “Data Panic” offers multiple takes on panic, fragility, and resolve, as in the complex relationship of content and process in Pedro Barbieto’s large painterly depiction of a black vortex. Superlative craft and sly humor subvert the depicted literal object in Justen Ladda’s non-reflective “mirror,” a portrait of a dark void. Kim Beck’s comic signage reinvents populist imagery in a new context, and Fernando Mastrangelo’s lonely ribbon sculpture, removed from the rest of its love tattoo source, represents isolation and a loss of confidence and trust. Paul Thek’s delicate “Broken Glass” etching lends an eerie echo of decades past, particularly the horrific crisis of AIDS, from which he died in 1988.