Holly Slingsby – Behind the Curtain at the Tintype Gallery
Venus no longer acts as the goddess of love, she’s a brand of women’s razor. Nike no longer personifies victory, she sells shoes. It is this contemporary, consumerist use of mythology that is the theme behind Holly Slingsby’s provocative performance in Tintype’s Project Space.
The fascination with how the ancient translates to modern, secular society – trivialised and commoditised – has inspired Slingsby to chew up and regurgitate these visions of the divine in her own interpretation, through a spiritual, two-hour performance. From her jumbled, handmade props, scattered on the ground like children’s toys, she re-invents religious and mythical figures, from Cleopatra to the Goddess of Knossos. She becomes a mannequin for history, a living Renaissance painting with a cardboard crown.
Slingsby’s attempts to capture the divine through tea towels and scraps of tinsel inevitably fail, but it is humanity’s continued effort to do so that interests her, which is expressed clearly and intelligently through her lo-fi approach.
She throws props around a backdrop of huge cardboard castles with a temperamental energy, stalking the space sulkily, occasionally stopping to strike a pose. She is nonchalant, treating the gods she depicts with the same disposability as the false, pound-shop beard she uses to replicate them.
This performance is passionate, informed, and rich in references. The show’s title, Behind the Curtain, nods to the theatre, but refers also to the Book of Exodus and the passages that give instructions for making the temple curtain and robes. It’s a title that perfectly sums up this blend of opulence, iconography, and school nativity.
The performance is part of Tintype’s annual Project Space, which Slingsby had been invited to use as a studio before her final performance. This is the fourth major solo performance for Slingsby, who studied at the Ruskin School of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art. A text by multi-disciplinary artist Brian Catling accompanied the performance.
Photos: Adriana Ayala
Behind the Curtain is at Tintype Gallery from 20th May until 13th June 2015, for further information visit here.