Chameleon (The)


Surely amongst the most important skills of young endeavouring artists are self-motivation and self-promotion. If this is true then much adulation goes to featured artists at Dis*com*bob*u*late, cited at Raffles Gallery, Market Square, Nottingham. Comprising of largely second year Fine Art and Photography students, this exhibition acted as a barometer of the under-graduate work in the city.

As far as self-promotion goes top-marks must unquestionably be awarded to the organisers for procuring the most central space in all of Nottingham, leave your tom-tom’s at home for this one!

If you arrived at Dis*com*bob*u*late expecting grave-rubbings, crappy photographs of students smoking weed and trendy graffiti on canvas, (as is so often the tedious currency on Fine Art degree courses), then think again. Drawing, painting, video, installation, sound and interactive work was all included, I left the opening night with pockets full of all the free art I could carry.

The defining gambit of the show was: ‘Discombobulate: to throw into a state of confusion’, and to this end much of the work succeeded. The artist simply known as ‘Inky’ displayed a variety of framed collages depicting childhood and Christian icons, often with painted figures overlaying the collaged image. The definitive meaning remained ambiguous, (you could say I was thrown into confusion), although clear parallels could be drawn between ideas of fairytales and moral values attached to characters and stories.

The work of the artist Carlene (again no surname given- very mysterious) probably had the most resonance. On a large projection, in a darkened room, she was seen handing out cards to the public on a generic high street. What did the cards say? Was I being thrown into a state of confusion? No. Covering the floor of this darkened room were, seemingly, thousands of the featured cards. Each had a different feel-good pearl of wisdom printed on one side: ‘No-One Ever Meant As Much To Me As You’, ‘They Don’t Control You’, ‘There Is No-One Else Like You’, etc. Although I didn’t find myself profoundly moved by the cards my attention did at once revert back to the projection to see the reactions of the public. Maybe they were the ones who were ‘thrown into a state of confusion’?

Time to reveal a secret. My work was also featured in the exhibition. Surely it would be arrogant for me to wax lyrical about my own practice?! Let’s call it self-promotion…

In the utmost reaches of the gallery the work of Dan Booth (mysterious pseudonym absent). Consisting of one hundred 10x11cm drawings of subject matter ranging from Vladimir Lenin to Homer Simpson, and from Osama Bin Laden to Pope Benedict XVI. Eclectic? I prefer to call it transcendental, *self satisfied smirk*. Next to this was an untitled pen and ink drawing of many of the characters considered ‘evil’ in our culture. Dictators, fascists and Disney villains. Alongside Hitler sits Scar from Disney’s The Lion King etc. My final piece was three sets of paper bags, hung up a la grocery shop, printed upon each bag either ‘BIRD FLU’, ‘TERRORISM’, or ‘CHINA’. These bags were accompanied by a plaque urging the audience to take the appropriate bag in the likely event of impending doom. This piece clearly picking up on, and playing with, our culture of fear.

Brightly presented, with no short supply of humour, this exhibition acted as a choice platform from which to promote work. Emanating from the centre of Nottingham, the high standard of under-graduate work broadcasted the intent of self-motivation and self-promotion over and beyond the departing audience, their pockets full of art.