When Josh Kline started making composites of celebrity headshots in 2009, he was an amateur at using Photoshop, which was appropriate for an artist whose work takes on questions of labor and leisure. This body of work has evolved along with the vernaculars it mined.
Critique of authenticity is at the heart of all of Kline’s images. With Citizen Dick/Hurl Jam/Guess Jeans (2010), Kline shaves contours and pushes together the flesh of Matt Dillon and James Franco, two hunky brunette actors who came to fame playing disaffected tough guys. The resulting generically handsome mutant has flushed cheeks, a ratty goatee, and cowlicks atop a prominent forehead. By virtue of the resemblance to both actors, the image cleaves, creating a kind of compare-and-contrast. Kline condenses the men’s roles in movies and in ‘reality,’ suspending them in a professional, real-life situation (one with pathetic depths)—in front of a Guess Jeans step-and-repeat.