— My Mirage
Conceived as a novel, My Mirage comprises 170 works that are uniform in scale but very different in style. Each of its images has been appropriated from one already in circulation in America during the 1960s and as such exists as a form of archive of the tastes and aesthetics of that decade. Among Christian comics, popular publications and advertisements, references are made to works by other artists including Frank Stella, Salvador Dalí, Ed Ruscha, R. Crumb, Basil Wolverton, Hieronymus Bosch, Victor Moscoso, Richard Hamilton, Gerry Anderson and John Baldessari.
My Mirage tells a fragmented, moralising narrative based on the experiences of Billy, a fictional, ‘average-Joe’, character from Middle America who sometimes doubles as Shaw’s alter-ego. Billy’s life is traced from a naïve and anxious adolescent to a teenager who turns to the excesses and escapisms of psychedelia through his college years and ultimately experiences rebirth through the religion of his youth. Each of the images used as source material has been extensively re-worked to suit its new narrative purpose. Allusions are made not only to Billy’s plight, but also to societal struggles and breakdowns in America during the 1960s.
The series also includes references to the ways in which it was made, reflecting Shaw’s concern with notions of creativity: Oil on Velvet 1988, for example, was made using those materials. In The Soft Margarine 1989, Shaw alludes to how My Mirage should be presented and read; it comprises a text that has been written, cut into sections and reassembled in random order using the ‘cut-up’ technique of American author William S. Burroughs (1914-97). My Mirage is re-ordered each time it is shown and, like the presentation at BALTIC during the exhibition Jim Shaw: The Rinse Cycle at BALTIC, is often shown incomplete.
The works from the My Mirage series included on this website are previously unpublished.
BALTIC Editions Jim Shaw - Hairdo. Limited Edition print of 100.
Jim Shaw Documentary Film vimeo.com/balticmill