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Space Station Sixty-Five, London
3 December 27 January
Reviewed by: Sharon Mangion »
While the earlier show Thy Neighbours Ox in 2003 took a shared right stance to the ownership of art objects, Thy Neighbours Ox 2 recently showing at Space Station Sixty-Five wants to celebrate a greedy aesthetic. Using a home-grown folk approach to making, craft and DIY objects are made to counter global mass production values with a sumptuous and gothic concentration on materials.
By collapsing brute and ideal aesthetics that seems to have so preoccupied art in the last century, quite a bit of the work refers to the problem of expressing Romantic ideals in art, the impossibility of living up to them and the ease with which they have been used to set up social hierarchies. Cathie Pilkingtons Jetzt Hab Ich Dich! (Ive Got You Now!), for example, is a chilling tableau of a traditional Nordic troll-like toy, in this case a hedgehog hunter, proudly displaying its ermine catch, inverting the classical primitive hierarchy that continues to dog art. Emma Talbots Pillow Book floats images of pretty girls and boys across a screen that have a Mills & Boon take on the Romantic while Paul Jones wonderful Popcornaut, looking, searching... envelopes has craggy landscape doodles on the back of envelopes, including one from the Inland Revenue Contributions Office.
Edwina Ashton also does a wonderfully comic turn on nature and the Romantic in her films, Beetle and Beautiful Pot. The latter has a giant caterpillar negotiating the roundness of a flowerpot with raw sausage meat which I defy anyone not to have a giggle at. The theme of the raw and the cooked is continued in Gayle Chong Kwans photographs, Cockaigne prints that have iconic emblems like Babels tower rendered in uncooked pasta and other more gory food stuffs, while bourgeois values are reassessed and found to be just as fetid in Paul Jones tumour-ridden Sideboard and outmoded in Shane Walteners Web doilies.
The mood of the show is not reflective though. Susan Colliss How to tell the difference between the Living and the Dead with the statement Drop Blind Angel displayed in party decorations might be a relinquishing of such high ideals and aspirations but it is done with revelry in mind, not wistful contemplation. Starting with the assumption that art has something to be coveted begs the question whether it can ever be a democratic medium. Stephen Nelsons Fungu should have been allowed to strut its stuff on centre stage to make this point but interestingly was tucked discretely beside a TV monitor. Sarah Jones Hoopla-gate was the most intriguing piece for me though, commenting more abstractly I think, on how easily we can be deceived by the powers that be.
Space Station Sixty-Five »
Building One, 373 Kennington Road, LONDON SE11 4PS
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