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Mike Estabrook
Brooklyn, NY
Neighborhood: Sunset Park

ARTIST STATEMENT: My work is deeply rooted in the tradition of fantastical figurative drawing and painting found in everything from medieval European paintings, Chinese scrolls, and communist murals, to contemporary comics and cartoons. I find the use of the human (or monstrous) figure in art to be a basic and indispensable means to communicate fundamental truths about political realities, identity, and emotional existence. For several years, I have been making cutout figurative works that leave behind the confining rectangles of frames, stretched canvas and panels. This is an act of subversion - defying the easily commodified form of the framed art object, while freeing the figure from any predetermined context. I take these discrete figurative elements, and make sprawling installations with them, allowing each new site to define the particular configurations of the work. In addition to small cutouts, I also make large scale two-dimensional paper puppets, which feature in an accompanying series of animations. These puppets range from 7 feet to 12 feet in height, and are made up of 10 or more discrete parts. I like to take these parts - a hand, a weapon, a head, a shin, etc., and use them separately as elements of the sprawling installations mentioned above. I liken this process to the Dada and Beat technique of Cut-Ups, where writings were cut up and reassembled, making way for chance and intuition to define the final product. The imagery I use is frequently political in nature. I make drawings and paintings of things like predator drones, invasive wildlife, fighter jets, abusive police, and otherwise naked men in lacey KKK robes. These installations are an emotional response to the political situation around me, intended to convey a surreal impression, rather than expressing a literal didactic message.

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This is one of my "Paper Nemesis" series of stop motion animations and large scale painted paper puppet installations. This one: "In Defense of Lost Causes", is named after the book of the same name by Slavoj Zizek. This video is a whimsical take on the content of that book- an exploration of the triumphs and failures of populist left wing revolutions.


647 Fulton Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217


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