Jack Pierson offers various interpretations on the social jester, the romantic, and the urban observer.His photographs, installations, assembled letters and neon signs, are all snippets of an intricate string of stories the artist continues through each work. These tales are played out, not chapter by chapter, but in the momentum of the artist leaving indicators and signs of what to watch out for as we go about out lives.
As explanation or elaboration a person may tell another “spell it out for me.” Adults sometimes spell around children or (oddly enough) dogs, in order to communicate discretely. In two neon word signs from 2002, “DRUGS” and “LIQUOR” Pierson spells it out for us. With boxy uppercase font, one could imagine these beacons in the night drifting at a distance on route 66, alternately urging decadence in the glowing red and pink like or warnings of what not to do. They are loaded words. The implicitly beg a question and imply an answer. These two words breakdown social and cultural boundaries only to make moral and structural boundaries of their own. Pierson sets up cultural (conundrums) markers and expects the viewer to coordinate the best way to access, answer, or deny. “DRUGS” and “LIQUOR” typify the artist’s playful cultural investigations and in linger in the viewer’s eye long after having seen the signs.
By Julie Ryan
(This text was originally published for Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary in 2004 for the exhibition catalogue ein-leuchten, Museum der Moderne, Salzburg)