Kota Ezawa takes iconic imagery from media history, mostly television, photography and film, and presents them in such a way that forces viewers to examine their relationship with images as they are constantly disseminated, repeated and overexposed. The imagery appropriated is manually (and painstakingly) transformed into vector-based animations that resemble old-school cartoons presented in lightboxes, cutouts, 3D renderings or slide shows.
The images range from the much publicized and televised OJ Simpson Trial, popular stills of media heiress Patty Hearst during a the Hibernia Bank robbery, and stills from the Odessa Steps sequence of the 1925 silent film The Battleship Potemkin; images that relate to violence or violent acts that have reverberated in popular culture or just images that resonate in our collective cultural memory. The images produced by Ezawa are simplified, devoid of any distracting details, so as to present a very digested and unilateral vision of the events. At times they seem like childish representations that together with a hostile event seem quite disturbing.
Born in 1969 in Cologne, Germany, he studied at the Düsseldorf Kunstakademie, San Francisco Art Institute and Stanford University, and lives and works in San Francisco. His work is on view through October 17 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Photography on Photography: Reflections on the Medium Since 1960, and will be on display in Ours: Democracy in the Age of Branding opening on October 16 at Parsons The New School for Design / The Vera List Center for Art and Politics, New York. He has had solo exhibitions at the St. Louis Art Museum; Hayward Gallery, London; ArtPace, San Antonio; Santa Monica Museum of Art; Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford; and Charles H. Scott Gallery, Vancouver.
Images provided by Murray Guy Gallery