Happiness Machine, the solo exhibition of Miika Benedetti
Miika Benedetti is an American artist born in Boston in 1987. He graduated from the Massachusetts College of Art in 2010. After Graduation, he came to China and since lives and works in Beijing. From 2010 until now, Miika has successively participated in the Red Gate Residency program, produced his first solo exhibition “Coma” in Unit One Gallery, exhibited in 2 group shows at the Ullen’s Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA), and was invited to do a solo exhibition at the U.S. Embassy of Beijing in 2013. “Happiness Machine” is his first solo exhibition since 2011. Held in Ying Gallery, it will serve as the most comprehensive solo exhibition of his works that he has created over the past three years, including oil painting, installation, and photographic work.
On moving to China and creating his recent work, he said “I wanted to throw myself into a brand new and isolated environment to carry out creation. An isolated environment is important to create an identity and to understand reality on my own terms. This is how I define specific emotions and things that seem to be missing from my work. They are just coming from one isolated viewpoint. Happiness is something that has eluded me as a kind of pure emotion. For this show, I express happiness as an addictive force in human society. What I am discussing here is not different understandings of “happiness” due to different experiences but an embodiment of different ways of action due to an addiction to happiness. I was inspired a lot by the book Propaganda by Edward Bernays where people are described as happiness machines, controlled by marketing and endless needs and placated in order to keep them moving in society in an unquestioning servitude to their governments and superiors. The happiness machine is also an ironic euphemism for myself. My way of presenting myself has always been by playing with certain archetypes to make people uncomfortable or to create art that is somehow confrontational. This is part of my art creation, to challenge the viewer, not to entice them but to entice and repel them. To make them happy and sad, horny and angry, lots of mixed emotions. Similar to how I feel.”
Works in this exhibition bravely reveal a mix of hedonism and its consequences; the anxiety and fear of a society through the artist’s own conceptual perceptions of the line between the “inside and outside worlds” he has tread on.
Happiness Machine will be running at Ying Gallery in Beijing from August 31 until October 9.
For more information, please visit www.ying-gallery.net.
*Text & Images courtesy of Miika Benedetti
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