Silkscreen poster by Mark Vallen

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New World Odor
Mark Vallen (c) 1991
$200 Serigraph 17.5" x 23" inches
Each print signed by the artist

My silkscreen print New World Odor was included in the exhibition, JUST ANOTHER POSTER? - Chicano Graphic Arts in California, a historic collection of Chicano artworks from the 70's to the late 1990's that traveled to museums across the US. The exhibit ran at the Fowler Museum at the University of California Los Angeles from June 16, 2001 to December 29, 2001, and I wrote a short review of that show.

In the official illustrated catalog for the exhibit, then Associate Professor of English at UCLA, Rafael Perez-Torres, who also happened to be one the show's curators, wrote the following incisive passage regarding my print:

"Chicano identity has often been expressed in terms of personal and cultural development at the nexus of various systems of economic, political, and cultural exchange. This concern informs the critique behind Mark Vallen's New World Odor. The title puns on the phrase President George H.W. Bush used to characterize the sociopolitical configuration of the world after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union. The poster suggests this new order means nothing but the same carnage beneath a different regime. The pile of skulls tumbling toward the viewer presents a macabre, perhaps slightly mocking vision of what awaits us in a world dominated by capital and commerce.

The gothic lettering seems to reference the poster art of the Third Reich, suggesting that the fall of communism has ensured the triumph of fascistic forces. The critique here is part of that strain in Chicano public art connected with political conditions at a global and international level."

I always valued Perez-Torres' assessment of New World Odor, but my print also took inspiration from sources other than the top news stories of the day. Influences ranged from the sardonic skeletal figures of the Mexican artist Josť Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913) and the iconography of Day of the Dead celebrations, to the aggressively apocalyptic aesthetics of late 1970s punk rock.

In its essence my print, from the standpoint of 1991, offered commentary on the consequences of the realignment of power in the world. The silkscreen was a response to the 1990 speech made by the 41st President of the U.S., George H. W. Bush, when he presented his vision of a "new world order." As soon as the words "new world order" were uttered, I visualized an acerbically mordant image that would break the news about the stench of our future, the one we currently live in... the New World Odor.

I was doing quite a lot of work in serigraphy at the time, but I never used high-tech modern methods like transferring photographic images onto a screen using emulsions. I always wanted my prints to possess the qualities of drawings made by hand, so I created silkscreen prints using the techniques artists used when serigraphy was first developed as a fine art medium in the mid-1930s. I made my New World Odor drawing directly onto the screen using oil-based lithographer's pencils and crayons, just as if I were drawing on paper. I then flooding the screen with water-based glue. The "stencil" produced was full of gradations in tone and remarkable textures; best of all - since one could never fully control the medium - the finished prints were full of surprise and "the artist's hand."

In hindsight my artwork was prescient. The undemocratic uni-party Folitician elites and their rancid sycophantic pals in the media; the fetid criminal cabal of crony capitalists and their shark-eyed bankster chums; those reeking fat cats and moneybags who dream of crushing national sovereignty to reign over a globalized world, and yes, those putrid super stars of Hollywood, the music industry, and the art world - they all have that New World Odor malodorous stink about them. I hope you escape their clutches.

[Show left] My New World Odor poster displayed on the street during the "Welcome Home Desert Storm Parade" held on Hollywood Blvd., May 19, 1991. One of a series of street posters I created and distributed all over Los Angeles in the late 70's, 80's and 90s.

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