September 8 through October 16,1988
This exhibition has been supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Federal agency.
Robert Bingham’s installation Goodbuy, Lord, By and By/An Old American Myth Or You Can’t Have Your Cake and Eat It Too is a witty comment on popular culture. Its satire leaves few aspects of the Me Generation unscathed; Bingham captures our obsession with youth and fitness, and our fascination with and desire for a “Lifestyle of the Rich and Famous,” while alluding to the empty rewards of our mindless over-consumption. The rewards of riding the sculpture’s “exercycle” are immediate. Images of game show prizes light up and an overhead spotlight bathes the participant in light yet there is more! A revolving cheesecake, mini television, and book — Bingham’s parody of the home entertainment center –all promise immediate gratification. The rider achieves “total fulfillment” in front of a grandstand of spectators who share in this tribute to superficiality and materialism. The brick-patterned tent constructed of fabric printed at Philadelphia’s Fabric Workshop serves as a visual pun on the insubstantiality of this literal and figurative arena of consumerism. Bingham cleverly works this space to form not only a functional environment but also a viable metaphor for contemporary society.
If words were my business I would … perhaps, write semiautobiographical fiction questioning what makes the world go round. Somewhere in the middle of these stories I would propose to the reader a choice of possible endings, thus presenting the reader with the opportunity to finish the story.
Words are not my business.
Inquiring, deconstructing, restructuring, and combining elements of our physical environment into new and different contexts is more up my alley. Within this alley I choose a particular point of departure, usually some form of refuse from modern society. This evolves into an arena in which the viewer is enticed to participate in an inquiry, or to contemplate a given notion, such as consumerism, the influence of the mass media, subliminal seduction, or having your cake and eating it too.
Within this arena the viewers are welcome to bring their own associations. They are presented with choices, implying that making a choice will influence the outcome. We make a decision in life or a decision makes us and we go a certain way. To have made a different decision means we would be somewhere else.
In recycling materials to form a “remodelled reality,” using recognizable objects situated in a not recognizable environment, I set out to question our ordinary use of space in terms of function and idea.
All works courtesy of the artist.
Goodbuy, Lord, By and By/An Old American Myth Or You Can’t Have Your Cake and Eat It Too, 1988 Mixed-media installation, 24′ long x 15′ wide x 11′ tall
The brick fabric used in this installation was printed at The Fabric Workshop, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
A price list is available from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Museum Shop desk.
Robert C. Bingham was born in La Crosse, Wisconsin, in 1953. He received his B.F.A. from Montana State University at Bozeman, Montana, in 1978, and his M.F.A. from the University of California at Davis, California, in 1981. Recently he has returned from a two-year position as sculpture instructor at St. Stephen’s International School, Rome, Italy.
1988 Five American Artists, St. Stephen’s School, Rome, Italy
1987 One Person Show, Tyler School of Art Abroad, Rome, Italy
Fabric as Concept Conceptual from The Fabric Workshop, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1986 Staged Dramas, Hudson Gallery, New York, New York
Faculty Exhibition, Goldie Paley Gallery, Moore College of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1985 Shelter ’85, Zenith Gallery, Washington, D.C.
An Inside Place, The Noyes Museum, Oceanville, New Jersey
Fourthoughts, Philadelphia Art Alliance, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1984 Philadelphia Drawing Competition, Philadelphia Art Alliance, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Sculpture ’84, Beaver College, Glenside, Pennsylvania
The Morris Gallery displays the work of outstanding contemporary artists with a connection to Philadelphia, determined by birth, schooling, or residence. The exhibitions are chosen by a committee composed of area artists, museum personnel, and collectors, and the curatorial staff of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Currently serving on the Morris Gallery Exhibition Committee are: Moe Brooker, Paolo Colombo, Bill Freeland, Faith Ginsburg, Carrie Rickey, Eileen Rosenau, Judith Tannenbaum; Academy staff Judith Stein, Morris Gallery Coordinator, Frank H. Goodyear, Jr., Linda Bantel, and Susan Danly.
Copyright, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, 1988