Noah Daum’s TOGETHER provides harrowing and provocative juxtapositions of graphics and found objects to create uniquely relevant amalgamations. The artist states that these works are meant to be viewed in the context of together (stylized TOGETHER), which he claims to be a “fictional dystopic society that attracts people into joining, and thus losing their individualism and identity.”
The ominous T of TOGETHER runs throughout each image, sometimes floating in the background (always there, even when its not) and in the foreground as blatant advertisement for the dystopic agenda. This T(ogetherness) strikes the balance between the aesthetic and uncomfortable. Its design is a minimal graphic that spans the plane from left to right then downward, creating both tension and balance often associated with simple geometric design. Its colors, blood red and black, are layered with each other in a manner that emphasizes the red, and immediately harkens to images associated with the German Nazi regime. Its placement within Be Together furthers the association with dystopic narratives, as its ever presence is placed at the top of the image, much like images of Orwell’s Big Brother or the Nazi iconography in Speilgelman’s MAUS.
It is precisely this complex exploration of (T)ogetherness that highlights its aesthetic appeal whilst remaining skeptical of its reality that makes this piece successful. The paradox of togetherness is that it doesn’t really mean what it states; togetherness is phenomenal in concept, historically tragic in practice. As suggested by the white folk art figurine in the TOGETHER advertisements, togetherness is only meant for the in-group, the oppressor, the ones who dictate the togetherness, not those who are the objects of it. Furthermore, Daum’s juxtapositions of the folk and propaganda elicit a paradoxical association between the nostalgic and the ominous, the wanting of a much needed platitude while understanding its oppressive truth.
Though this piece is of a fictional dystopia, it is very rooted in reality; its cautionary message is extremely relevant.
See Daum’s piece here.
Jessica Mairena is a mixed media artist who currently attends the University of Richmond. Their work primarily focuses on the exploratory integration of conceptual texts, painting, and sculpture.