Kuhl and Leyton have been collaborating for over five years, and have worked closely as artists for over seven years. Kuhl and Leyton’s collaborative works depict crime scenes, emergencies, and crisis situations. The works draw upon mass media’s conventional mode of documenting states of emergency. Police officers, security guards, emergency medical technicians, crime scene investigators, detectives, and firefighters are the government forces that arrive to control, organize, and assist with civic disorder.
Police officers have long been seen as a symbol of the government, and in movies both a hero and a villain; a citizen above the law. In 1989 the reality television program COPS emerged, showing actual footage of police officers on patrol. This television series began a new era for officer’s portrayal in the media. COPS brought police officers into people’s homes and depicted offenders not as criminals, but as stars in a television show. COPS fosters America’s lust for justice. COPS has paved the way for numerous other shows such as Law and Order, ER, and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
Criminals and crisis situations have become entertainment.
The collaborative works are a branch of what COPS initiated. Kuhl and Leyton create the scenes with found imagery; several sources are often used to produce the final image. The role of the characters and their situations are ambiguous. A man points a gun, medics in the background place a man in a gurney. Who is helping, who’s hindering? These scenes are familiar to society and although not everyone has experienced crisis first hand, the television has bridged this gap. The collaborative works comment on media, violence, the government, and their relationship to each other.
About the New Series:
Featuring the most prominent cases of celebrity infamy of the last decade the show highlights a series of celebrity “mugshots”. Executed in bi-colored acrylic tape these notorious 60” x 80” portraits include the likes of Mel Gibson, Paris Hilton, and O.J. Staring back at us they question our obsession with their fall from grace and portray America’s lust for gossip, violence and fame.
These new works that at once court and reject ‘celebrity’ follow a distinctive thread of KUHL & LEYTON, who have collaborated directly for the past four years. Initially inspired by the TV show “Cops”, their work often depicts crime scenes and crisis situations - seeking to unearth that which fosters America’s lust for justice. By working exclusively in acrylic tape they have developed a highly graphic style; this combined with affection for the use of vibrant color gives their dark subject matter a veneer of a fantasy.
Busted! this new series, exposes not only the vulnerability and immorality of our beloved icons, but also of ourselves. In an instant these few shamed men and women cause us to reflect upon a social consciousness that is increasingly at the mercy of the media. Using the publicity surrounding the downfall of our idols as an example of how fickle a mob we have become, KUHL & LEYTON illuminate an inherent sickness in the psyche of the modern world: How much we love raise our stars, yet how much more we love to watch them fall.
gallery links: www.cjazzart.com