Today 26 May 2020, artist Stefan Brüggemann has unveiled OK (Untitled Action), a new public artwork in Folkestone. For this major installation, the frontage of a four-storey building in the town’s Creative Quarter has been gilded with gold leaf with the word ‘OK’ scrawled over it in black spray paint at large scale. The artwork, commissioned by local not-for-profit arts organisation HOP Projects for its headquarters, has been created during lockdown as a response to the current situation and is typical of Brüggemann’s often-ironic work.
Gold leaf, historically reserved for artworks intended to convey spiritual or indeed economic power, is used by Brüggemann as a canvas for an unceremonious and immediate form of expression: graffiti. The word ‘OK’ is written using thick lashings of paint in a gestural process that leaves the excess dripping down in black lines from the letters. Protest movements and defiant individuals frequently use public writing and graffiti to voice dissent, but that norm is subverted here with the use of a word that suggests indifference, acceptance or even positivity.
Brüggemann explains: “This false note generates a doubt in the mind; it prompts the viewer to consider what it means to be apolitical, contented, or simply ‘OK’, in the current political climate. There is inherent uncertainty in the word ‘OK’ and seeing it in this context subverts our expectations – is it a symbol of acceptance or resignation or even hope? The meanings of artworks are fluid, often changing depending on the context, and I have deliberately left this installation very open to interpretation. It might connect with people in a particular way in this moment, but that feeling they experience might also shift with time.”
Spanning and sometimes combining installation, sculpture, video, painting, and drawing, Stefan Brüggemann’s work deploys text in conceptual installations rich with acerbic social critique and a post pop aesthetic. Born in Mexico City and working between Mexico and London, text functions as a fluid medium, utilised for both form and meaning with a distinctive choice of words that is typically provocative and topical.
Fiona Russell, Sutton Communications
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HOP Projects CT20 [HPCT20] is a forthright, open and diverse cultural platform that challenges existing paradigms in contemporary visual culture. Established in September 2017, it is a non-profit organisation based in the heart of the Creative Quarter in Folkestone, UK.