Many of my art related dreams are a mocking commentary on the world and my place in it. This Dream Object, containing miniature versions of all the Dream Objects to date could be seen as a capstone to the project, or a sort of dare from my subconscious to actually grind out all those little things, or as a micromocking of things in themselves. The one new object in the pile is the figure of the Whore of Babylon astride the beast with seven heads and ten horns. This version was from a 1967 psychedelic Kelley/Mouse poster, (typically featuring an image from some decadent turn of the century Art nouveau painting) I had as a teenager, long before I knew anything of the Whore of Babylon. I have never found the original painting and don’t know who the artist was.
In Revelations, Babylon is closely tied to the material world, the buying and selling of things. That anti-materialist strain in Christianity (along with other religions) fights in my core being, as well as our culture, with the sheer inspired lunacy of our collective creativity, which manifests in a state of manic over productivity, the results of which are both thrilling and awful. There is a schism in my own relations to material objects (i.e. I collect/horde all kinds of vaguely useful stuff, mostly images, yet I find the pursuit of materiality a bit less disgusting than John The Revelator or Bin Laden do) that I think is a reflection of that in the culture at large (such as our love of big budget Hollywood films in which our attachment to material goods is derided or obliterated).
At the beginning of this Dream Object project, I envisioned a single show in which all the objects were piled in a gallery, like the detritus of a storm, surrounded by a series of comic panels based on the Jerry Lewis/Dean Martin movie Artists and Models in which Jerry’s dreams come true, which would become a story about Salvador Dali and his P.R. coming true to the detriment of his art, finally becoming an EC horror comic about a workaholic artist who continues to work in his dreams, finally a zombie/slave to his art, but as the years involved in the production wore on, this goal became unattainable, or perhaps I just thought the idea was weak. From one angle the sculpture is a different version of that pile concept, minus the comic/commentary; from another it’s like the salt cellar of Benvenuto Cellini, a little decorative object into which so much skill and energy has been thrust it confers a status on the emperor who possess its extravagance.
— Jim Shaw, June 2008
This last Fall, Jim Shaw had a major solo survey exhibition at the New Museum, New York: The End Is Here. His work has been shown extensively internationally and has been the subject of numerous publications and solo exhibitions, including Mass MOCA, North Adams; Centre Dürrenmatt, Neuchâtel; Chalet Society, Paris; Baltic Center for Contemporary Art, Gateshead; CAPC - Musée d’Art Contemporain, Bordeaux; MoMA PS1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island; Le Magasin, Grenoble; Swiss Institute, New York; MAMCO, Geneva or ICA, London. He was also included in The Encyclopedic Palace exhibition at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013. The artist’s work is in the permanent collections of the MoMA, Metropolitan Museum, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; LACMA, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; CNAP/FNAC and Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris among others. Shaw was born in Midland, Michigan
in 1952, received his BA from The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and his MFA from CalArts. He currently lives and works in Los Angeles.