The Fall Of Disco Mickey
Stone Quarry Art Park, Cazenovia, NY 2016
A giant mirror-ball Mickey Mouse figure lies half buried and abandoned but still holds his concrete smile. The mirrored surface reflects the ever-changing cultural world around him; a last gasp byproduct of his edifying iconic status at the point of being forgotten. Strange special shifts are seen in the reflections of his slowly decaying surface, as the sky becomes ground and the ground is silhouetted against the sky. It signifies change and the ‘Fall’ of other great narratives.
Disco Mickey is, for the artist Tom Hall, the result of reflecting on the iconoclasts of the Islamic State; like that in Palmira and other middle eastern sites which have provoked him to question our reliance on and love of iconography. He feels that icons in the west have become cultural shorthand; a stand-in for more complex representations that describe the functions of institutions, culture and places. The Twin Towers became such a powerful symbol of international finance that it was not a surprise it was a target for terrorists. Yet we continue to build more and more iconic buildings and structures worldwide, which at their heart hold little meaning yet stand for significance. Tom remembers Charlton Heston, in the final scene in Planet Of The Apes, coming across the half-buried Statue of Liberty. He realizes at that point that it is too late, and that escaping the present can’t be a retreat to the past.
“My first reaction to the smashing of such important historical artifacts in Palmira, with hammers and dynamite in such a direct way, is horror. How can we lose such significant relics and culture? However, we can’t ignore the fact that they (I.S.) are doing this and for meaningful reasons even if we don’t agree with their actions or the reasons behind them. What interests me is that this is not a new thing; we regularly go through periods of iconoclasm. England went through an extreme and destructive civil war and following purge in the early-to-mid 1600’s; the suppression of a true artistic ‘renaissance’ which could have been every bit as great as Italy’s. But the result was an intellectual vacuum that was quickly filled by science, philosophy and the written word.”
It is this intellectual vacuum, the space left, which interests the artist. Disco Mickey will fall further away from his black and white origin and with this sculpture he is given a little push.