Friday, August 24, 2012

Deep Fried Famous Person at the County Fair

Deep Fried Tabloid (Brangelina), 2008, dimensions variable, tempura, vegetable oil & fiberglass over magazine, Adam Mars

Labor Day weekend marks the opening of the annual Los Angeles County Fair.  The fair offers an over abundance of food oddities.  In fact, the L.A. County Fair Official website suggests, “…Eating at the Fair is a unique experience. With more than 300 choices, undue(sic) the top button on your pants and dive in.”  So just what will you be undoing your pant’s button for? Most fair food falls into one of three categories: enormous, on a stick or deep-fried. Some foods, like the deep fried giant pickle on a stick fall within all three categories. Those falling in the category of enormously sized foods include the foot long dog, ten-pound buns, Texas sized wagon wheel donuts, giant turkey legs and muffin-sized cupcakes.  Foods promised to taste better on a stick: the spamsicle, deep fried burger, pizza, cheese cake, hot and corn dogs, chocolate covered bananas, roasted corn and watermelon.  It seems simply everything at one time or another has been dunked in the deep fryer: funnel cakes, Krispy Kreme chicken sandwiches, rattle snake bites, Oreos, Twinkies, Klondike bars, Snickers, cereal, frogs legs, Pop Tarts, avocado, blooming onions, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, frozen Kool Aid and tabloid magazines.  Tabloid magazines?  

 
Deep Fried Tabloid (Jessica), 2008, dimensions variable, tempura, vegetable oil & fiberglass over magazine, Adam Mars

Deep Fried Tabloid (Heath), 2008, dimensions variable, tempura, vegetable oil & fiberglass over magazine, Adam Mars

 Fairgoers are actually quite unlikely to find a deep fried tabloid magazine at the county fair; however, artist Adam Mars pushes the boundaries of deep-frying far beyond fair food in his work, “Deep Fried Tabloids.”  Mars literally batters tabloid magazines and then deep fries and coats each work in fiberglass.  The highly specific use of materials, including tempura, vegetable oil and fiberglass, mimic the materiality of the celebrity world.  Mars states, “My decision to use tempura as my medium was two-sided. Formally, it produced a transparent quality that allowed for certain areas of the magazine (mostly celebrity faces) to bleed through the fried batter and take on an unflattering characteristic. In other areas the batter would be more opaque, but I liked the dynamic nature of the tempura. Other mixes like flour and beer batter seemed like they would omit too much of the tabloid content and mask the allure of the pieces.  Conceptually, I liked using tempura because I felt it was in line with the celebrity culture I was showcasing. Hollywood isn’t known as fried chicken or fish and chips country. Fried tempura’s presence in countless chic restaurants across the southland like Nobu and Katsuya felt more appropriate for the project.”

 
Deep Fried Tabloid (Britney), 2008, dimensions variable, tempura, vegetable oil & fiberglass over magazine, Adam Mars

 Deep Fried Tabloid (Owen), 2008, dimensions variable, tempura, vegetable oil & fiberglass over magazine, Adam Mars

The notion of deep-frying often implies a transformation of food that may otherwise be considered inedible due to lack of flavor, nutritional value or freshness.  Through the gesture of deep-frying numerous rag mags, Mars plays with our desire to consume celebrity while also pointing to the force-feeding we fall captive to. The tabloid, along with the usual gum and candy, tempts impulse buyers, offering another way to check out of the grocery store line. The quick impulse buy offers consumers a temporary sense of control or connection to the world wherein glamour, fame and money should deliver the promise of contentment.  In her book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle,” author Barbara Kingsolver points out, “In the grocery store checkout corral were more likely to learn which TV stars are secretly fornicating then to inquire as to the whereabouts of the people who grew the cucumbers and melons in our carts.”  Each of Mars' pieces is titled after the star adorning the cover.  Titles include “Brittany”, “Lohan” and “Owen.” In some works grease stains mark familiar faces causing a shift from the desirable to the grotesque.  The stains and tempura coating conjure up multiple kinds of batter, such as a beat down starlet. It can also be argued that the tempura-coated magazines, with beautiful faces peering beyond the crust, resemble ejaculation.  If you happen to come across a deep fried tabloid magazine at the county fair you might think twice about taking the fair's advice in regards to undoing that pant's button.

 
Deep Fried Tabloid (Angelina), 2006, dimensions variable, tempura, vegetable oil & fiberglass over magazine, Adam Mars 

 
Deep Fried Tabloid (Lohan), 2008, dimensions variable, tempura, vegetable oil & fiberglass over magazine, Adam Mars 

Adam Mars recently exhibited works with Orchard Windows Gallery in New York and CES Contemporary in Orange County.  His work will be included in the upcoming group exhibition “Futureland 2012” at AR4T Gallery in Orange County from October 4th – October 27th 2012.

 
Deep Fried Tabloid (The Hills), 2008, dimensions variable, tempura, vegetable oil & fiberglass over magazine, Adam Mars 

 
Deep Fried Tabloid (Kate), 2008, dimensions variable, tempura, vegetable oil & fiberglass over magazine, Adam Mars



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