Rachel Ara - American Beauty (A Trump L'Oeil)

Rachel Ara - American Beauty (A Trump L'Oeil)

Rachel Ara - American Beauty (A Trump L'Oeil)

American Beauty (A Trump L’Oeil) by Rachel Ara

The Barbican Centre, London, UK

24 May — 31 Dec 2018

Lumen is proud to have been selected by the Barbican Centre to bring exciting new art to its public spaces. Our first collaboration, the commission of American Beauty (a Trump L’oeil), by 2016 Lumen Prize finalist Rachel Ara, was part of the Barbican’s 2018 season, ‘The Art of Change’, which explored how artists respond to, reflect on and can potentially effect change in the social and political landscape.

Ara’s work was selected from a shortlist of winners and finalists from the Lumen Prize for Digital Art in collaboration with the Barbican Centre’s ‘Level G’ programme.

American Beauty (a Trump L’oeil) uses film, poetry, humour and CGI to create an incongruous image that references film history, utopian architecture and contemporary politics. The iconic brutalist architecture of the Barbican becomes a glitch, a window through which we might catch a glimpse into our future.

Visitors watch as an orange hairpiece dances in the wind in perpetuity around the Barbican Estate, echoing the iconic scene from Sam Mendes’ ‘American Beauty’. The title itself is a play on the phrase ‘trompe l’oeil’ (deceives the eye).

This was a large-scale work, projecting a computer-generated image of the Barbican into the fabric of the building.  The film of the hairpiece blowing was on a 12-minute seamless loop.  As day faded, so the projection switched into dusk mode, then the night scene which played until the Barbican foyers closed at 11pm.

Projectors and other equipment were provided by Christie UK. CGI by AVR London

Rachel Ara is a conceptual artist whose cross-disciplinary practice is non-conformist with a socio-political edge, often incorporating humour and technology with feminist concerns. A 2016 Lumen Prize finalist in the Still Image category, this year Ara was recently selected for the London Open at the Whitechapel Gallery and is currently artist-in-residence at the V&A.

Laura Hudson, a London-based writer and arts critic, provides an in-depth look at the influences and context for ‘American Beauty’.