The flatness of Michael Cardacino’s art hints at photography and his commercial art background, but the pieces are actually far more bombastic. The core images—whether it be Monica Lewinsky, a Catholic cardinal or Barbie—are so loaded, they are modern translations of iconography. “Part of that flatness and graphicness has to do with what I’m trying to communicate. I find that caricatures or generic images hold places in our minds… I don’t find an elaboration is important.”
Cardacino works both on flat panels from a reasonable wall size to super-large cardboard cutouts.
The generic images reverberate with context and our individual attributions. In other works, each image is a state of mind that’s frozen on the subject’s face and we are forced to confront it. He reorganized video interviews into still images to create a “moving portrait of thought. We can’t see people’s thoughts, but by identifying the emotional expression… I’m revealing thoughts we don’t normally see.”
Cardacino deconstructs intellectual processes by capturing the emotional progression that happens from the persistence of thoughts percolating to the face and creating expressions. He effectively removes viewers’ prejudices against the subject to connect us with a foreign character and bring them closer. “When you can develop this compassion by looking at this thing, the other door to love is right there… Equanimity is what I am interested in…”
If all people who we encounter are a reflection of our inner selves, compassion is about remembering that. When Cardacino makes one of his images, they’re more like historic mosaics. Most works comprise smaller images that form the overall composition. In the end it may be a statement about racial injustices, but the thousands of miniature tiles used to create the form each play a part in the subject’s history. He appropriates images to make us participate in life in stop motion and experience it all a little slower.
See Michael Cardacino’s Body of Work XI, July 19-20 at Ashawagh Hall, East Hampton. michaelcardacino.com
photos by deborah feingold