Artificially Organic: Al Margen Talks Art, Society, and Technology.

There is something deeply agonizing about artist Al Margen's pieces. They perfectly encapsulate the litany of existential maladies that we have come to endure and embody in the so-called Age of Connectivity so well, that each viewing can cause a guttural reaction. 

Even the color selection (which is often monochromatic) reflects the dull and somewhat outdated notion of a cut and dry, black and white society when juxtaposed with the nascent complexity of the modern world. There is a lot to unpack here, but what is heartbreaking is how Al manages to symbolize the intricate and seemingly ubiquitous anxiety that accompanies the human experience within a single, concise frame.

Are we doing ourselves a disservice  by allowing technology to take precedence over organic developments and relationships? Why is it so easy to undervalue the spontaneous and natural in favor of the artificial?

What still amazes me is seeing the people gathered at a table and each one looking at his screen, communicating with people who are not there and not communicating with people who are present during the meeting. Absence has taken priority over presence.

I had to reach out and get his opinion on the current societal landscape and his drawings.

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Prox: When it comes to your illustrations, do you find it more difficult to tell an entire story because you only have one frame to do so? Does this force you to become more creative and minimal?

Al: In the beginning I drew comics. That is, I told a story with several images and in my current illustrations I try to do the same: tell a story, but in a single image. The only thing I have to do is look for the image that best tells that story.

Prox: Where do your insights about the nature of contemporary Western society typically come from?

Al: The ideas for my drawings come from what I see around me. I also draw about things that happen to me. Many times they criticize me saying that I believe myself to be "superior" for pointing out the mistakes of others. What they do not know is that some of my drawings are autobiographical, a self-criticism.

Prox: You have no qualms about tackling mature themes. Why have you chosen this tone for much of your work? What does this say about the average citizen when viewed in this context?

Al: I do not make money with this, so I do not have someone to tell me what I can publish and what I can not. The themes that I play on within my drawings were not strategically chosen. These are the drawings that I like to draw on the subjects that I like to address. The only censorship is self-censorship.

Prox: As the world invests more and more into artificiality, do you think it will eventually become strange to see authenticity in the future? What are the consequences of always being “plugged in” in your opinion?

Al: I do not know what the future will be like. The human being evolves and regresses constantly throughout history. What I do see in the present is that we are becoming slaves to “connectivity.” We have a hard time going without reading notifications or emails.

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What still amazes me is seeing the people gathered at a table and each one looking at his screen, communicating with people who are not there and not communicating with people who are present during the meeting. Absence has taken priority over presence.

Prox: While the issues that the world faces may seem insurmountable at times, what do you think we can do today to contribute to a better future? What role can artists play in this restructuring of the current model?

Al: Artists can not do anything. In order for customs to change, society has to change. I do not think that an artist can change the way of thinking of an entire society. I think many factors are needed. But that would have to be explained by a sociologist. Anyway, I do not consider myself an artist or much less want to change the world. I do not have that much ego, I only make drawings.

Prox: Is there any information you’d like to share about upcoming projects and releases you have in store for us?

Al: My only project is to continue drawing and share my work. I like it a lot when people comment on them and give their interpretation. In the exchange of ideas, new ideas arise.

Prox: Final Thoughts?

Al: I greatly appreciate the invitation for the interview. I have noticed that there are several articles on internet pages where they show my drawings, but what I also noticed is that they all say the same thing more or less: "Argentine illustrator criticizes modern society" "20 things that are wrong in society.”

They “copy and paste”, or they extract the basic information from Facebook. They also invent titles to the drawings. They have even put images that are not mine. It is rare that someone takes the time to ask me questions. That's why I'm very grateful for the interview and up to do them any time.

Check out Al's Facebook page for more of his work and updates.

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