(Rat) Apocalypse Now
Peter Paquin has a term he likes to use. He’s not sure where it's from or if he made it up. “Misanthropologist” combines two terms: misanthrope meaning “hater of mankind” and anthropologist. What Paquin wants the viewers of his first solo show to know is that he doesn't actually hate humankind— It's just that he's painfully aware of human ignorance. To Paquin, the show and its message is ”more about humans being their own worst enemy.“
So if it's about humans, why rats? Paquin has been using rats as an icon for decades since he first began tagging them in the late 90’s. What Verman shows us, other than Paquin's popularity in the art world, is the ability for iconography to hold many layers of meaning: "what it boils down to is having a subject that I can use as an image and just do variations on. And the image also loses meaning if that makes sense. But while also having this incredibly heavy meaning, in the opposite regard, it becomes extremely abstract.”
While it may not be a premonition exactly, Verman points out the ironic ways humans degrade ourselves. We try so hard not to see the waste that we create and the vermin that live on that waste. But like many other things in life, it's the things that we try so desperately to make invisible that becomes so detrimental to us because of the ways we allow them to mutate and fester without accountability. Ironically, it's exactly this aggressive neglect of the filth that we have created that makes it so potently fatal. By forcing us to look at this and experience “the rat” as we have made him, Peter Paquin may have a hand in stopping this vicious cycle, but I suppose it's up to us in the end.
Verman by Peter Paquin is currently on view at Procell, 5 Delancey St, NY, NY.