Elephant & Castle's culture shop

South London: Organised by a teenage art group, Culture Shop was a nugget of free art held in a disused Poundland – and funded by a luxury giant

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Initiated by the Louis Vuitton Young Arts ProjectCulture Shop: January Sale is a south London art group's called Art Assassins’ most recent venture - an off-site live exhibition by bunch of 14-20-year-olds offering responses to the idea that ‘culture makes you who you are.’ Installed – aptly – in a disused Poundland unit in Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre this space s far from your stereotypical white cube. Exchange is rife in the middle of the place once voted London's ugliest structure, but not of the materialist kind, as a plethora of audio and video works confront conventional cultural perceptions of profession, class, nationality and race.

True to their name, the Art Assassins are not taking the war on youth lying down. Back in Autumn 2011 they created a stimulating youth led publication in collaboration with Hato Press in response to the London riots -Voice of the Voiceless proving engagement and openness vital to the Art Assassins’ philosophy. Working with high profile collaborators no doubt enhances their message’s impact, the Young Art’s Project’s Summer Academy engaging in a public sculpture workshop with the well known Scandinavian duo Elmgreen & Dragset last August. As a three year partnership between five of London’s leading art institutions – Hayward Gallery, Royal Academy of Arts, South London Gallery, Tate Britain and the Whitechapel – the Louis Vuitton Young Arts Project exposes the Art Assassins to an snazzy series of cultural programmes – keeping them busy alongside their regular SLG Thursday evening meetings, college and school commitments. 

Ryan Valentine’s video Gamer and George Flanagan’s We Don’t Get Lawyers ‘Round Here, are two of many works that illustrate the assassination of the commercialist dictum ‘nothing in this world is free’ through their poignantly open creative exchange. Voicing his cultural curiosities, 13-year old South London Gallery forum member George talks to Rose Commander -a paralegal at Goldman and Bailey Solicitors- about how ‘people from where I live aren’t lawyers’. Gemma Andrews’s live experiment Elephant Toothpaste demonstrates how her cultural diversity is bubbling over (literally) in a confluence of art and science. Turkish Art Assassin Mehmet Cücel performs his passionate intro to professional wrestling in Front Bump/Back Bump, where in-between body crunching moves he demonstrates the importance of ‘bumping’ -the safety measure used in professional wrestling that determines learning how to fall without causing injury to yourself or others.

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