New Deities: art and the cult of celebrity
Date: 19-Oct-2007 – 01-Feb-2009
Location: DEVONPORT REGIONAL GALLERY (ORIGINAL VENUE) AND VARIOUS TOURING LOCATIONS
The eight artists in the exhibition have examined different aspects of celebrity, and probed various characteristics of these phenomena including the role celebrity’s play in society today, self-promotion and media promotion, and aspirations for fame and celebrity status.
In the essay, Fifteen Minutes, David Malouf compares old-fashioned fame, built upon reputation and established over time, with contemporary fame gained in an instant. Malouf calls this version of fame, celebrity. Celebrities are the new deities –‘sacred monsters’ or demi-gods of a modern society where celebrity worship is the new religion. Malouf believes that celebrities are mythologised; they become idols that play out a ‘tragi-pathetic public show’ for a world hungry for meaning.
This obsession with fame is represented in New Deities: art and the cult of celebrity as eight contemporary artists explore notions of the celebrity with particular reference to the mass media and the internet. The exhibition touches on a range of issues related to the allure and zealous devotion to celebrities. While organised religion may appear to be in decline, celebrity worship continues to gain momentum. Pop culture and the mass media, at times seemingly a single entity, appears to have a life of its own, growing and forming in response to the images that feed the machine. Even the banal act of a celebrity drinking coffee or buying groceries is considered news worthy. It seems that society has an insatiable appetite for these images, which are the stock in trade of a growing industry eager to feed the consumer.
Curator, May 2007