Cliff Evans’s childhood was passed in a secluded little commune, with limited media access. He recounts that he used to spend most of his time wandering through the woods, and that his first acquaintance with the art world was through some films and comic books. He then went on to study cinema and video at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, where he began his artistic career.
This unique biography has naturally affected Evans’s outlook on life, as well as his artistic imagery, the contents with which he engages, and his means of expression. His videos depict colorful, scenic landscapes while portraying an ominous, apocalyptic future. They may be read as scathing, humorous criticism directed at utopian ideologies that promise humanity a bright future. Evans himself says he does not presume to be a political artist and has no didactic intentions, yet would like to encourage his viewers to take a critical look at the power structures that shape their lives and affect them. The works’ visually rich, rhythmic, dynamic energy is hypnotizing. The viewer is drawn in and, much like Alice, finds himself falling into Wonderland.
Citizen: The Wolf and Nanny was created, like Evans’s other videos, from thousands of images meticulously gleaned from online sources and then joined together in ways that decontextualize them. Thus they invalidate hierarchic structures familiar from a variety of fields (including the military, economic, social, and leisure spheres) and construct a narrative that follows a new thematic and formal configuration. The result is a kaleidoscopic collage which is both enchanting and menacing, based on quick transitions between utopia and dystopia, conflation and collapse. Sputniks, natural landscapes, tourists, tracking dogs, a nanny pushing a stroller, laborers, missiles, a pack of wolves, architectural structures, security personnel, huge mosquitoes, corporate logos… All these and more are mixed together in this work, resulting in an experience which is aesthetic yet also chaotic and alarming.