The Art Shack exhibition at the Laguna Art Museum consisted of a diverse collection of built spaces, paintings, sculptures, video and installations – all representing various interpretations of the coastal shack architecture. Some artists and designers also drew from the Californian Assemblage movement of the late 1950’s and 60’s, while Gillette drew from third world slums.
His two paintings, ‘Slumscape,’ and ‘Mickey Jakarta’ were so vivid and powerful; the images seemed to pop off the two dimensional canvas. With his installations, he mixed bright and colourful images from pop culture and symbols of luxury real estate with found objects, discarded plywood and a dry sense of humor and irony to make some very provocative statements on class, inequality, ownership, home and the slums. But more surprisingly, what Gillette deftly manages to do in his creative displays of poverty is to show the viewer the weary beauty of shantytowns.
By 2030, that is in a mere twenty years, UN Habitat has predicted that the number of people living in slums will double to two billion. From Egypt to China, Brazil and India to Kenya and South Africa and so on, each location, each city, has their unique interpretation of a shantytown. Each is built completely organically based on found objects and easily accessible building materials, influenced by weather, culture and society. Both urban theorist Mike Davis and the architect Charles Correa have written about the impact and social dynamic of the slums.