Curator Rebecca Lennon brings together a noisy show at Ceri Hand Gallery. Bright with the glow of fluoro colours, vintage monitors, illustrations on Perspex, satirical paintings and the odd soft tiger toy, Fresh Trauma brings together a range of artists, in an open space awash with works vying to outdo one another.
A practicing artist herself, Lennon collages a variety of formats, including performance, video and installation, into an exploration into what is lost through mass media and what should be brought back to our critical attention. Often this results in direct engagement. As is the case in ‘The Pattern’ (2013), a large poster-sized piece of paper, on which white text purports to ‘SLIP PAST YOUR CONCIOUS THOUGHT AND WORM ITS WAY INTO YOUR MIND’, as its own typography dissolves into the light-blue background made up of the same repeated square graphic. At other times Lennon flips this notion. Video work ‘Fresh Trauma’ (2013) shows us trees being wrapped in plastic, accompanied by soundtrack clips from A Clockwork Orange. Nonetheless, it’s clear that both revel in the clash between that which is mass-produced and what seems personal, natural or individual.
It’s a critique of capitalism that the late Young British Artist, Angus Fairhurst, similarly pursues in poignant video, ‘Cheap and Ill-Fitting Gorilla Suit’ (1995). A consciously filmed piece of performance art that sees Fairhurst catch our gaze as he goes from a rigid standing position to the animated leaps of a primate. The costume eventually falls apart, pieces of scrunched paper falling out, flesh becoming visible. A metaphor for a wild beast’s manufactured image torn to pieces, as its weak threads break and a living person, with their own narrative is revealed inside.
Gabriele Beveridge’s off-centre recontextualisation of photographs used in advertising present a different encounter on this theme. ‘Mostly that your face is like the sky behind the Holiday Inn’ (2013) acts as a master class in the art of installation-as-seduction. Its window frame out in the exhibition space, broken blinds half-heartedly closed, obscure a glimpse onto a photograph of a modern day femme fatale, complete with covered bosom. Wine glasses smashed on the ledge in-between each layer attend to the business of creating a story, while the models fake smile laughs at the ease with which viewers are seduced.
‘Apoplectic’ (2013) by Benedict Drew layers over his own work ‘Big Shit, Little Shit’ (2013) in an installation that produces its own space and brings to life the infrastructure with which it was created. Cables wrapped in foil draw our attention to the power source for outdated monitor screens, where technology is given a character through flickering slogans such as, “if it had a mind you could reason with” or “one day all things will answer back”. An angry collage of indignant anxiety, complete with tape bursting out of cassettes, it’s an image of technology’s potential for evil.
Altogether, Fresh Trauma thrusts its audience into deliberate overstimulation, asking if we can ever handle our own creation, clearly dictate an interpretation and satisfy an ‘audience’. It lets you find your own way, while always yearning for an alternative.**