VITRINE Bermondsey Square is delighted to present a solo exhibition of Berlin based artist Michael John Whelan. For this exhibition, Only in looks at Vitrine’s unique 16-metre window space as a place to re-address associations to objects, and to freeze an image/object in time.
The origin for this work is a double page magazine advert from 1984 for the American Jeep vehicle, enlarged in scale, the image has been altered to the dimensions of the vitrine itself, presenting only a section of the advert. Becoming an object itself, outside its initial purpose 30 years ago, it is now a form of meta image.
The image contains coded signifiers that can lead to many meanings, from the commodification of the romantic to structures within image psychology: the idealistic painterly scarlet sunset; the vehicle, a proponent of modernism, sitting quietly like a silent animal; the man, full of youth and vitality, alone, looking at the yellow orb across the land before him; the land, denoting the future, his future or perhaps ours. He stands at once a like a modern day cowboy who has subdued his mechanical beast, and as Caspar David Friedrich’s Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, and similarly as historian John Lewis Gaddis writes, the images is “suggesting at once mastery over a landscape and the insignificance of the individual within it. We see no face, so it’s impossible to know whether the prospect facing the young man is exhilarating, or terrifying, or both.” All this bathed in the all encompassing (perhaps artificially created) illumination from the sun.
Curated by Amanda Abi Khalil