The butchered, tortured, unconscious creature returns your gaze, the discarded remnants of consumerist culture is reborn, reworked, and returned to greet the society which once deemed it debris. Misericord, the seminal new exhibition by curators Jo David and Rachael House, brings together the acclaimed artists Cathie Pilkington and Jay Cloth to present a rethinking of ‘over the counter culture’ and the identity of the appropriated object. The gallery space acts as the ‘misericord’ to provide a frame in which to house these relics of humanity, to physically support the depictions of our time.
Harking back to the Cubist age of appropriation, Jay Cloth, better known as that doorman you were scared of at Duckie, crudely uses collage to assemble erotic Hannah Hoch-esque images intent on questioning identity, culture, and the consumerist gaze. His works in themselves are dependant on being seen. They are, in their own right, commodities; a juxtaposition of high-end glamour images and paper-bag porn. They exist to unsettle and unnerve their viewer, where in this technological age, images are preexisting stimuli of manipulations of the human subconscious. His works do not imply comment on the materials used, however, but combine to instill feeling within their viewer. “I really don't mean to make a comment about the pictures I use as raw materials," Cloth says. "I just want to make something that excites me”.
Cathie Pilkington provides an aggregation of art forms, textures, and characters to form unified sculptures and tableaus which retain emotional fingerprints like a cheap souvenir of a distant childhood nightmare. “Expect a rich visual spectacle”, Pilkington states. “Darkly narrative sculptures, strange and wonderful objects, sumptuous collages deftly cut from 70s porn mags all jostle for attention.”
Her appropriation-riddled art taxidermies at first seem almost like outsider art if it were not for the precision with which she deploys the eerie sense of familiarity through the haunting grotesques. Pilkington’s work defines assemblage yet defies identity, pulling together the hypocrisies of our own materialism with a strong art historical aesthetic. Not since the Nouvelle Realistes has the art world been confronted with such startling realism of the true image of the product of contemporary society. “For me, making art is primitive, religious, passionate and magical," she explains.
The sheer energy of these two vivid artists combined makes this an exhibition not be missed. Just like Frankenstein’s monster, David explains, “the project will become even greater than the sum of its parts”.
Misericord is at Space Station Sixty-Five, 65 North Cross Road, London, SE22 9ET, from 25 February to 1 May 2011