From stand-up comedian to Golden Globe winner, Canada’s very own Jim Carrey is focusing his creativity towards the visual arts. Since 2016, Carrey has taken to Twitter to return to an old passion of his: drawing. Showcased at the Phi Centre, This Light Never Goes Out: Political Cartoons by Jim Carrey presents an intimate look at Carrey’s response towards the political landscape in the United States since the current president’s first few days in office.
Entering the exhibition space, the viewer is confronted with two screens playing similar montages on loop: glitchy clips of distressing news from CNN, scrolling pages of both Carrey and Donald Trump’s Twitter accounts, as well as Carrey’s artworks superimposed over the clips. These videos set the tone for the show.
Moving forward, two gallery walls enclose the viewer as they are filled with over fifty framed drawings. Hung in chronological order based on his Twitter posts, each drawing includes a quote by the artist. Suffice to say, Carrey is not shy in expressing his feelings. Entitled WE KIDNAP CHILDREN, the artwork shows a fearful boy as a hand forcefully grabs the back of his shirt – the boy exclaims, “I want my mommy.” Here, Carrey is not only referencing the countless children “taken from their refugee parents and locked in cages” but as well as the children who have been “slaughtered by the hundreds in their classrooms.”
This Light Never Goes Out continues with drawings of a screaming, child-like Donald Trump, a sketch of Steve Bannon marked “FOOL” over his face, a grotesquely drawn portrait of Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and a drawing of the Governor of Alabama as a fetus, among other political cartoons. Stylistically, there is a sense of urgency through the deep scribbles of the coloured markers and anger through the intense contrast of colours. However, Carrey states, “I don’t hate the subject of my cartoons. I hate their unconsciousness.”
Although the works by Carrey are readily available online and open to the public through Twitter, the Phi Centre contextualizes his works within the grander theme of art and technology and the ways in which technology provides a platform for artists to disseminate their works on a global scale. The exhibition includes a separate room with iPads and a large touch-screen of Carrey’s Twitter page in which one can scroll through his account to view his political cartoons. Here, the viewer is able to experience first hand the significance of the difference between art hung on the walls of a gallery and art circulated through social media.
Political cartoons are nothing new. Carrey follows the lineage of satirical cartoonists, from the 18th century British satirist James Gillray, to the French satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo. Like his predecessors, Carrey seeks to critique the figures abusing their power and resist the degeneration of truth through his drawings. However, unlike his predecessors, Twitter allows Carrey to stimulate a public dialogue on the social media platform void of temporality– the light never goes out.
This Light Never Goes Out: Political Cartoons by Jim Carrey is at the Phi Centre (315 ST Paul W) until September 1. For more information on the THIS LIGHT NEVER GOES OUT, please click here.