5. Nicholas Eckhardt
Nicholas Eckhardt’s site-based installation utilises the vernacular forms of retail shopfront and corporate lobby environments as a framework for exploring the ubiquity of the personal brand, the image economy and realities of art production in the age of social media and neoliberalism.
Enclosed within a glass exhibition space, the installation comprises branded window vinyl, photographic works printed on commercial signage substrates and tubular steel sculptures that invoke the Eames and Breuer style modernist furniture invariably displayed in corporate lobbies across the globe.
Despite referencing these commercial sites, the work in The Cube goes beyond the ironic perspective of an anthropological enquiry into the corporate environment. The wordmark of the brand on display is the artists own initials, ‘NE’, suggesting complicity in this commercial landscape. In the work, “ANY” (uv curable ink on frosted acrylic, mild steel, gaffer tape), the wordmark is repeated yet again, dominating the cityscape. Present within this image is the artist themself, not only in the self-referential form of the initials but also through a literal reflection of them capturing the image in the form of a selfie. The work in Eckhardt’s installation is deeply sincere and self-aware.
As corporate brands increasingly employ user-generated content and other ‘authentic’ marketing strategies (such as using terms like ‘artisanal’, ‘small-batch’, ‘handcrafted’, etc.) to appeal to consumers, Nicholas Eckhardt is adopting the corporate vernacular of this sector into his artistic practice. Eckhardt’s installation in The Cube functions as both brand activation and solo exhibition. Delivered with a tongue-in-cheek honesty (as opposed to detached irony), Eckhardt’s work forms a self-reflexive interrogation of the artist-as-entrepreneur. In the age of the personal brand, where everybody is a cultural influencer and corporate marketers are increasingly exploiting artistic labour, Eckhardt’s work holds a mirror to our complex reality.
Signal presents Nicholas Eckhardt, melbourne based mixed media artist, in a original installation work at Oxford Art Factory’s Cube space. The fifth installation of Signal’s tenure at The Cube, 25th of September - 13th of Novemeber.