The Secret Life and Archaic Times of Mr D
14 May – 18 June 1993
For White Cube’s inaugural exhibition, the Israeli artist Itai Doron created a world in which celluloid dreams seemed to come true. In a series of airbrushed photomontages, Doron indulged in acts of cinematic wish-fulfilment via his alter ego, Mr D, a grinning, fresh-faced boy who made clandestine appearances in film stills. Doron took viewers on a sentimental journey to meet his screen idols via images that, bathed in kitsch, glowing colours, have a winsome, storybook aesthetic. Doron’s visual cutting and pasting recalls the activities of an obsessive fan. The diminutive Mr D appears in each image—partaking in gunplay with James Bond, Barbarella and Travis Bickle, and posing with Mae West, Marilyn Monroe and Marlon Brando. Some of these encounters between child and screen icon are more charged, perhaps less innocent. For example, in one picture, Mr D appears as a toddler sitting on the bare knee of Joe Dalessandro, the actor and Warhol muse.
With its ability to rewrite history, photomontage is a precursor to the digital age, and has often been used by artists as a tool of biting satire and political statement. Doron’s seamless works of fiction share the exactitude of John Heartfield’s work, but he replaces the political edge with a core of playful humour. At the same time, their escapist mood recalls the sumptuous, camp creations of the French photographers Pierre et Gilles, and expresses a similar buoyant optimism. Doron’s homage to Hollywood can be seen as a paean to a golden age of unquestioning adulation for all that was ‘the silver screen’, in memory perhaps of childhood evenings spent at Saturday night picture shows and a bedroom wall plastered with posters of movie idols. While these fantasies testify to an enduring love affair with Hollywood’s allure, there is also a suggestion that the states of intense devotion that accompany hero worship are, by their nature, short-lived.
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