Since the mid–1970s West has made collages from torn pages of fashion and pornography magazines painted over to isolate figures and objects, creating odd and awkward juxtapositions. In the mid–1990s he began to add text and personal photographs to his collages, and in Hangaround he adapts his crude aesthetic to poster design.
The work's title refers to its double–sided design. One side advertises a 1997 exhibition by West in Cologne, and pictures the artist drinking a glass of wine with one of his signature Adaptive sculptures (meant to be played with by viewers) on his head. The other side features text for a 1996 exhibition in Warsaw and pictures West's half–brother, Otto Kobalek (left), with an oversized shoe—referring to a well–known photo of Kobalek interacting with a shoelike Adaptive sculpture—and writer Hermann Schürrer carrying a box-shaped Adaptive.
Hangaround, however, was not produced to promote these exhibitions; West's posters are singular works of art, not mass–produced commercial pieces. Nonetheless, the artist prefers that viewers consume his posters like street ephemera, quickly and superficially, instead of contemplating and critiquing them as they would traditional artwork. Nor, West feels, do his posters require the precious, meticulous hanging art institutions grant paintings: they can be hung singly on the wall, propped up against it, or hung jam-packed among other works. Through his designs West hopes to elevate the status of the poster and undermine the sanctity of the original work of art.
Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, p. 166.