Clinton Fein’s exhibition, Torture, opened at Toomey Tourell Gallery in San Francisco in January 2007 as a shocking and defiant exploration of America’s approach to torture under the Bush administration.
A series of staged and digitally manipulated photographic images recreate the infamous torture scenes from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, transforming the diffuse, muted and low-resolution images into large-scale, vivid, powerful and frightening reproductions.
Numb & Number follows on the momentum of Clinton Fein’s acclaimed New York exhibition, WARNING!, of which New York Times’ Ken Johnson wrote:
“This South African provocateur’s vitriolic, darkly comic digital montages attack President Bush, his cabinet and his Iraq policies.”
Numb & Number features digital collages and photo-based work reflecting on the last four years of the Bush Administration.
From a misuse of the term fuzzy math that shaped the 2000 election to the daily count of the dead and wounded in the war in Iraq, the show focuses on the extent to which numbers are used to numb, confuse and manipulate an increasingly insecure public.
In a world of superficial sound bytes dominated by a generation absorbed with the self and the surface of things, Clinton Fein’s work dissects the vicissitudes of our body politic, pricking the raw nerves that the increasingly conservative mass media tiptoes around. Fein’s politically charged art offers social critique through compelling, aggressive, and daring images. He subverts existing imagery by digitally altering, manipulating, and collaging fragments to create striking images that shock, mock, and amuse.
These images are not mannered or labored; they shoot fast from the hip and are produced at a prodigious rate, promulgated through Fein’s website, Annoy.com, in a one-man parallel of the mass media news cycle.
Fein launched his art career in 2002, postponing his debut in the wake of the attacks on September 11, 2001, with a solo exhibition at San Francisco-based Toomey Tourell Gallery titled “Annoy.com” based on the images from the website and on the advice of renowned sculptor Lynda Benglis, who coined it “Press Art.”
Clinton Fein’s Annoy.com is a visceral response. An in-your-face, bitterly ironic and unapologetically wry interpretation of the events, politicians, consumer brands and media onslaught that encapsulates them and permeates our consciousness in a relentless barrage.