My Work

My body of work is a celebration, a condemnation and a commemoration of Americana. The late 40’s, 50’s and early 60’s were the optimistic years - full of hope for what the future would hold, and the enduring prosperity. People migrated from east to west for the three W’s - work, weather, and wealth. It was in some ways a promise that was short delivered. Not for all but for many. It was that road to Eldorado that turned out for some to be the road to perdition.

 

The signs said it all and so did the cars. In the 1950’s cars had wings but were flightless. They had flair and free spirit. It smacked of optimism and good times and in a way they were. The dream faded and rusted. America does not trust its own taste any more. Even worse, it has demolished those buildings and signs; it demolished its own optimism.

My Motivations

The works on this web site are called “No Vital Signs” This is driven by the desire celebrate, commentate and condemn Americana as we transition from one era to another. We are lost as to where we are now and where we are going. We cannot possibly know how this looks without looking back. The past holds the key to the future as we celebrate the boldness, the quirkiness, the unrestrained optimism of what we once had.

My Art Work Within the Broader Artistic Movements

If Pop Art started out as a celebration of the mundane and morphed into a celebration of celebrity culture, then my work is both celebration and commemoration of Americana when the dream seemed to be so young, and still so full of promise, but when American capitalism and consumerism were, in fact, already waning.

 

Iconic manufactories of the dream, such as Lockheed Martin, McDonnell Douglas, Kodak, R.J. Reynolds, British American Tobacco’s Peter Stuyvesant, American Motors, General Motors, Chrysler, the glamour of drive in cinemas, of highway motels and the innovators of fast food (where everything could be expressed in neon and attained in your car) perished in the vicissitudes of popular culture.

 

We often do not realise an era is waning until we are in a new era. If capitalism is waning what will fill the vacuum? What will it look like? How will society, our idio culture, our tribe express its own and unique status when Apple, McDonald’s, Coca-cola, or Cadillac seem passe or even dirty. We need to reflect on the past to propel us forward.

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Alex Miln

Born 1957 Auckland

Lives at Papamoa Beach

 

1983  -  Finalist in the Team McMillian Art Award

1983  -  Solo exhibition at the Charlie Grays "Last and First Cafe"

2015  -  Finialst in the Wallace Art Awards

2016  -  Double Finalist in the National Contemporary Art Awards

2016  -  Winner of the Miles Supreme Art Award

2017  -  Finalist in the Molly Morepeth Canaday Art Award

2017  -  Finalist in the Wallace Art Awards

2018  -  Finalist in the Wallace Art Awards

2019  -  "No Vital Signs", Solo Exhibition, NZAFA, Wellington

 

Alex Miln

In the mid eighties I started kicking around an idea when I was working at the Courtauld Institute of Art, in London. It ignited a fire within that to this day cannot be extinguished. I had spent a lot of time in Europe and North America taking photos of old signs. In a way they were spent, the best years of these signs were behind them. However they imbued an optimism that had passed by, the optimism was gone leaving communities somewhat shabby.   

When I got back to New Zealand, it was my vision to recreate these signs but in a three dimensional way, so that the viewer could feel the decay, the rusting but also the shadows that it cast. The first few signs that I did were a disaster. I just could not get it to work. But I just kept committed to my belief in this until I could get it to work. In around 2005 I finally got a break through with it. It was finally working and I set about the next ten years building a body of work.

Biography