Metamorph at Hoxton Garage
Despite recent scientific and theoretical denial, the mind/body dichotomy remains culturally embedded in the Western psyche, the ethereal residue of centuries of philosophical, religious and psychiatric traditions. The body is often seen as a mere vessel for the soul: weak, fallible and imperfect.
Historically, art, culture and literature were the primary means to break free from the cloistered confines of the body, transporting to new worlds or altering the perception of reality. But the (post)modern era offers more avenues than ever to escape, whether through the use of psychoactive drugs taking us to higher planes, cosmetic surgery helping us achieve aesthetic perfection, or the possibility of multiple new identities in the digital terrain. Metamorph brings this swirling vortex into a single multi-artist exhibition.
James Beatham’s Convo features a projection of a disconcerting web-chat that quickly descends into a strange sexual encounter. The unglamorous container stuffed with cheese puffs located nearby reminds us that the reality at the other end of a computer screen rarely lives up to the fantasies played out online. In a similar vein, David Teather’s beautifully textured pencil drawings evoke the squeaky leather of clandestine, fetish play.
Veronika Neukirch’s and Jake Biggin’s pieces seem to touch on the very modern obsession with superheroes (perhaps stemming from imagining ourselves as superhuman as a way to escape the mundane drudgery of our wage-slave existence). Biggin’s film installation places the spectator in an enclosed black overhang, engulfing the field of view. Hypnotic, almost psychedelic visuals take the viewer on a bizarre journey, narrated by an audio clip from an early Superman film, placing them as the protagonist from Krypton.
Annesah Al Harbi’s installation of a figure, suited up to the waist with a fish tank atop, reminds us exactly why people still wish to escape. It alludes to the goldfish-bowl reality of modern life and the suit trousers feel oppressive.
Valentin Dommanget’s diminutive perspex pieces, with their geometric lines and bright colours, encourage the viewer to find their own patterns, shapes and forms – reminiscent of the visuals induced by hallucinogenic drugs, only too perfect and precise.
Victoria Erdelevskaya’s photography and Tupac El Diabolo’s live performance illustrate simpler ways to enhance the body, via camera trickery and theatrical feats, respectively.
Taken separately, none of the works at Metamorph are particularly earth-shattering, but the curation weaves the themes together in such a way as to ensure that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Photos: Victoria Erdelevskaya
Metamorph was a one-off event at Hoxton Garage on 21st August 2013. For further information and future events visit the gallery’s website here.