Spanish artist Joan Cornellà’s works are often rooted in dark humor, presenting a perfect amalgamation of aesthetic construct and satire to comment on his observations of the rather bleak aspects of human behaviour.
On October 18, 2019, in collaboration with AllRightsReserved, he released a thousand 10-inch vinyl figures of the work Selfie Gun via DingDongTakuhaibin.com after the earlier success of his 12.5-inch bronze sculpture editions released in September 2019. The bronze sculpture with exquisite craftsmanship, painted and packaged in a wooden box, sold out rapidly.
Each of the limited editionpieces, priced at USD $199 | HKD $1,560, had the artist’s printed signature under the feet of the sculpture.
In recent times, there has been much media footage of selfie-related injuries and even deaths. The mishaps have now led to new restrictions on cellphone use and taking selfies in numerous public places, a number of them having been designated no-selfie zones to prevent accidents while taking selfies, both to people as well as the surroundings.
The work Selfie Gun then is a commentary on the almost fatal consequences of man’s narcissistic tendencies. The corresponding images show a group of three people trying to take a selfie, ending in the death of two of them. While the image could represent the actual selfie-related deaths, these hint at the larger dangers posed by the selfie-culture. The obsession with the selfie may not be just an obsession with taking pictures, but a larger representation of how our culture is increasingly obsessed with the projection of ourselves rather than our actual selves. Not only does it foster body image issues, but also personal morale and self-worth issues, creating a rift between not just our individual definition and perception, but our social identities and perceptions.
Cornellà’s work resounds with our unnatural connection to social media and masturbatory selfie culture, revelling in its absurdity and impropriety. However, at first sight, his works are light-hearted and playful, his figures all sharing a generic blank smile and cheerfully bright colour palette. Upon further inspection, however, the subject’s overwhelming morbidity and unnerving nature shines through with unparalleled force. Black comedy, at its core, is about satirising subjects that are traditionally prohibited, things that are seen as too sacred or taboo. Cornellà pokes fun at such topics and cuts to their core with gags and minimal visual clues. While some feel affronted by his work, many feel a connection, laughing and feeling uncomfortable at the same time.
Thought-provoking, honest and always entertaining, Cornellà's work is sincere in its potent message, even when disguised in blatant humour. In the artist’s own words: “I think we all laugh at misery. We must start from the idea that when we laugh, we laugh at someone or something. With empathy or not, there is always some degree of cruelty. In spite of that, I am aware that if one of my characters happened in real life, I would not laugh at all.”
The smiles plastered on the faces of Cornellà's vinyl figures then reflect the irony of it all and how what we seemingly derive pleasure from things that may after all prove to be self-deprecating in many cases.