Venturing out to a shopping mall during this Christmastime season, I can’t help but notice all the popular products for children, especially how even in this modern age some toy designs remain in demand. From the vintage-inspired look of the Our Generation and American Girl dolls to the NES Classic Edition which emulates Nintendo’s original 8-bit console, it makes us wonder if it’s true that — as Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr noted — the more things change, the more they are the same. And this, obviously, isn’t a pondering lost on artist Juventino Aranda, especially when considering his…

Rollin’ in Peace (R.I.P.)

Juventino Aranda's Rollin' in Peace (R.I.P.)

Photo: Eric Galey

Juventino Aranda
Rollin’ in Peace (R.I.P.), 2011
Radio Flyer Wagon & Nintendo 64 Game Console Controller, edition of 1
dimensions variable

A re-appropriation of low-brow, kitsch iconography, Aranda’s Rollin’ in Peace (R.I.P.) begs the viewer to examine the American cultural identity by juxtaposing the classic with the contemporary.

The readily recognizable little red Radio Flyer wagon has been an American icon since it was introduced in 1930, and Aranda’s choice of it for the base of his sculpture seems more significant than simply denoting its vintage-style appeal. By adding coilovers to the expressive wheel positioning, their whimsical stance is reminiscent of a playful puppy’s movement, subtly implying that the Radio Flyer is indeed a boy’s best friend.

And the inclusion of an inputted Nintendo 64 controller, which was the industry’s last major home console to use the cartridge as its primary storage format, infers the modern need for interactivity through technology. While the home gaming revolution of the ’80s and ’90s made many fear that other toy types would be forgotten, all it did in the long run — as Rollin’ in Peace (R.I.P.) implies — was make us desire what we already had.

Rollin’ in Peace (R.I.P.) will be part of Weed the Lawn and Feed the Roses, Aranda’s forthcoming solo exhibition debut, at the Greg Kucera Gallery (212 Third Avenue South, Seattle, WA 98104), which opens on January 5th and runs through February 18th, 2017.

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