We speak to two of the twelve participating artists manipulating forms of commercial imagery at the new expo inspired by French slang
Tucked around the corner of Bethnal Green Road, the Twelve Around One gallery is barely six months old - but this hasn’t stopped curators Gabor Gyory and Nick Jensen pulling together work from twelve impressive artists for their newest exhibition, Verlan. The unusual title comes from the French slang of the same name, which shifts around syllables to make codified versions of the same word. Not too dissimilar to Cockney rhyming slang or Pig Latin, verlan rearranges aspects of common words to create something entirely new – yet oddly familiar.
It’s this concept of reassembling conventional forms that attracted Gyory and Jensen to putting together the show. The contributing artists’ cultural references stretch far and wide; Sam Griffin re-uses motifs from the great minimalist artist Frank Stella; while Majed Aslam mixes distorted excerpts from Rihanna music videos into his work. Other artists taking part include Clunie Reid, whose collages create playful juxtapositions through appropriated images from the media. Dazed caught up with Clunie and co-curator/participating artist Gabor Gyory to talk more about some of the ideas behind the show.
Dazed Digital: There’s a great range of talent involved in the show - how did you go about selecting each artist?
Gabor Gyory: We have known quite a few of the artists for quite a while and have been following their work. Whilst the ideas in the exhibition relate to some of art's more fundamental aspects and qualities, there is a sense that these artists’ practices at the current time made a show of this nature quite pertinent.
DD: What was it about verlan, and the undermining of established systems, that caught your interest?
Gabor Gyory: Verlan, as the slang, is as much an aesthetic as it is a code, whose form can't exceed the material it inherits from its unmodified state. And yet it is reliant on an intrinsic understanding of the initial unmodified form as a means of reassembling. How Verlan as the art exceeds this is through the functional 'a-functional' aspect of an artwork. The reordering establishes something of a caesura, against which the subtle shades within forms of imagery gain clarity. Offering something of both the nature of imagery, art and the gallery.
DD: What work have you prepared for the exhibition?
Clunie Reid: In my case, Gabor and Nick curated a pre-existing work into the show so it was not something I made for them specifically. It belonged to a body of work where the text addressed the photographic image literally as a form of representational madness.
DD: How do you consider the interplay between text and image in the context of this show?
Clunie Reid: In relation to the image, the text either comments literally or is absurdly arbitrary, but both lead to language making unsustainable claims on the image.
DD: The subversion of popular imagery has a rich history in art - what is significant about the present time for the exhibition to be taking place?
Gabor Gyory: Language is an aspect of all art, and yet art has a particularly temporal manner in classifying those forms of language. When it comes to significance, it is that it comes after a time in which popular imagery is present within the artistic lexicon. Art more clearly works within the languages of its past, whereas commercial imagery gains its reflexivity through the product at the end of a chain of communication, and the coercive qualities of its language in the present. Time itself as much a subject of the work as it is an agent acting over it. Equally, what's interesting with time in art is the way in which it strips an image of its 'popular' quality.
'Verlan', with Majed Aslam, Joel Beach, Jeremy Brann, Edward Cotterill, Sam Griffin, Gabor Gyory, Dear Mr. Quistgaard, Fay Nicolson, Clunie Reid, Oliver Smith, David Treloar & Simon Willems - from the 14th-22nd January at Twelve Around One gallery, 33a Shacklewell Street, Shoreditch, London E2 7EG