Gee for the work to be seen across
Gee Vaucher is an artist from Essex who partook
in the counterculture of punk anarcho-pacifism during the 1970s, and thus
became ovular to the aesthetic of protest art which surfaced during the 1980s.
Wielding her talent and work to make specific social change; Vaucher stands as
an icon of dissent to me, as she demonstrates what it is to be both a creative
who is fiscally savvy and a politically active voice.
Originating in the Crass Art Movement, Vaucher’s
work has extended beyond one medium. Her practice includes illustration,
collage, painting and installation. This wide range of methods has attracted a
much wider audience, and therefore has helped in mobilizing her
anti-establishment views. Additionally, having this wider appeal has allowed
for the work to be seen across borders, holding relevance internationally.
To demonstrate this, ‘Oh
America’ was created in 1989 (Gouache on card) as a commissioned piece for
Tackhead’s album ‘Friendly as a Hand Grenade’ but has recently been omnipresent
in the aftermath of Trump’s election.
this piece at Vaucher’s Introspective exhibition at the Firstsite Gallery in
Colchester, the magnitude of the image was made clear to me. Vaucher actively
resists the greed and tarnish which is promoted through capitalism and the
ever-growing power of corporations. What is more, through creating this piece
of art, other people are enlightened and begin to promote the same view.
after the American election, the image was published on the front page of the Daily
Mirror newspaper which was an iconic choice within itself. For a newspaper to
so utterly pass their biased opinion on a political event is outstanding, and
the fact that the image used was that of Gee Vaucher made it even more of a
notable move. Paired with the headline ‘What Have They Done?’ (Allen, 2016) the
image succeeds in shock and awe and catapulted a storm of social media coverage
which further proves that Vaucher’s work crosses borders into a league of international
is notable about Gee Vaucher is that one doesn’t have to have prior knowledge
of her work and intentions for it to be influential. In actual fact, when operating
as part of the crass art movement, Vaucher subsumed her singular identity into
a collective which focused on anonymity. Even when her identity as a person is
not focused upon, Vaucher’s epochal designs about war and corruption came to
define the oppositional and politicized punk aesthetic of the 1980s.
although the work of Vaucher so obviously lends itself to political art, when
speaking to her in an interview it was discovered that she does not actually
class herself as a ‘political artist’ (Interview, 2016). Stating that ‘all work
is naturally political’ Vaucher distances herself from being labelled and this
is a feature which follows through her line of work, not wanting to be defined.
So, to address some of her
work which is not obviously political, I referred to the book Animal Rites (Vaucher,
2004) which was published by Exitstencil Press in 2004. Upon page 15 in the book,
one can come across a rather stunning image.
the psychology of human behavior and interaction, Animal Rites both in the
published book and in the room of Vaucher’s exhibition comment on our tendency
as humans to anthropomorphize animals. Enlightening ourselves to our own
actions, Vaucher sparks a train of thought which I saw many experience when
visiting the exhibition. Attributing human moods such as happiness or sympathy
or even dominance to animals, we project our own way of existing onto the creature.
Vaucher’s quote: ‘All Humans are Animals, but Some Animals are More Human than
Others.’ (Vaucher, 2004) The images and figurines which are shown in Introspective blur the lines between
what it is to be human and what it is to be animal, showing yet again that her
work is bold in opinion and therefore iconic in nature. These images, though
not obviously political in a visceral sense, succeed in making just as much of
an impact as those like ‘Oh, America’ which are quite clear in their message.