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The Trickle-Down Syndrome

Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Sophia Kosmaoglou.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Sophia Kosmaoglou.

In August 2017 we visited Benedict Drew‘s exhibition The Trickle-Down Syndrome at the Whitechapel Gallery with students on the Critical Theory in Contemporary Art Practice course. The exhibition was a sprawling interconnected array of objects, banners, screens, cables and digital components. What is the Trickle-Down Syndrome? How does it relate to the infamous laissez faire economic theory? What are the throbbing fleshy forms and knobbly knotted forms represented in videos, banners and roughly-hewn objects?

We spent a couple of hours viewing and discussing the exhibition and everyone was asked to write a 250-500 word review that evening for a workshop the next morning. Each review is written in a uniquely different style and approach, with a different interpretation of the exhibition. We were all very impressed by this outcome so we decided to share the results.

CONTENTS

ALISON GILL Slush Economics and Other Symptoms
ARIELLE FRANCIS What is the point, Benedict Drew
DOROTHY HUNTER No Guts and No Glory
EMILY STAPLETON JEFFERIS Bendedict Drew: The Trickle Down System
IAN BIRKHEAD In the Synthetic Bowel
JUN ABE Undergoing the Trickle-Down Syndrome: Underneath Your Flesh
TAMMY SMITH A sensory journey through absurdly visualised bodily functions vs the state economy


ALISON GILL Slush Economics and Other Symptoms

The Trickle-Down Syndrome is a multimedia installation by Benedict Drew involving sculpture, music and video. The mesmerising and seductive impact of the work is immediate on entering the exhibition. Hand painted perspective lines cover the floor and wall fanning out in a black and white radial shape drawing viewers toward a screen showing an egg or cell dividing.

Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Alison Gill.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Alison Gill.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Ian Birkhead.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Ian Birkhead.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.

This is the beginning of the Trickle-Down Syndrome. It sounds pathological, in fact, this title refers to trickle-down economics, a theory of wealth distribution which has, according to the International Monetary Fund been proven to not exist. The poor get poorer while the rich get richer. Here it is then, represented as a ‘syndrome’, a pathological collection of symptoms. Drew’s diagnosis is simple; the trickle down has turned to slush. So how does this manifest itself as an art exhibition? There are many references to the body. Around the corner are large colourful intestinal wall hoardings cable tied to galvanised steel rails, slick and street aesthetics combined. Electronic ambient bleeps and pops provide a sonic over-lay to the whole installation. And when Drew talks about escape being a potent form of resistance, I can’t help wondering if the alter-come-stage he has created with giant eyeballs hanging onto a waxy brain are the sci-fi signifiers to an altered reality. It’s not here though. The video murmurs on with bad news and more innards. Mirrors, repetition of eyes and cones, lots of signs of ritual and at the centre a golden gong. Around another corner ‘That Sinking Feeling’ blinks in pastel pink on a wall, down below a video monitor on a packing crate shows someone is stuck in the mud and momentarily, a muzzle of a mule appears. To the side old Lidl bags contain the speakers all shielded and contained by red welding screens. Confused? Me too, that’s the point.

The last little room uses symmetry again, a theme throughout and reference Drew says, to Busbey Berkley but could equally be the more colourful pop homages made by Michel Gondry such as Around the World (Daft Punk). Another influence sited is Max Ernst’s landscapes. I had to look hard for these: The gong perhaps as it features in ‘production image for The Trickle-Down Syndrome’? Piled up in the corner are free newspapers, Financial Times pink, blowing around. There is a grungy look to the digital photo-collaged drawings it contains. On one page there is a drawing of a mule with a thought bubble saying ‘I hate humans’. On another page there is a photo of a statue, arms in the air and branching out to red coral. Over this is drawn yellow radiating line, an aura of sorts. Is this Daphne when she transforms from human form into a tree, to return back to the earth? Is this at the heart of Drew’s desire for ‘ecstatic protest’, I wonder? We humans are better off ‘out of it’ he seems to be saying. If this is it, it is a nihilistic project indeed but he knows how to make this pill a sweet one to swallow.


ARIELLE FRANCIS What is the point, Benedict Drew

To descend into this particular piece of work, was frus-trating work. An environment difficult to enjoy, Benedict Drew does not make it an easy bodily experience.

Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Ian Birkhead.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Ian Birkhead.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Sophia Kosmaoglou.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Sophia Kosmaoglou.

Large illustrations that impose upon your existence – their height and sheer width are admirable. I wondered how it came into the room for unlike any painting on a wall, it cannot simply be hung at eye level. These sheets of fabric hold high from ceiling to floor, detached from the wall, softly lit from behind. This glow lightly frames the supposedly hand drawn curves, the images existing in pairs of three, a face off if you will. Competing against each other on parallels planes there is nothing to compare, for all feel the same regardless. Nothing special exists within, other than curvy curvy wormy monotonous hollowness and their obvious ability to say “here I am. I take up space. Was probably installed via machine and scaffolding. Regardless, be fascinated with me”

Moving past these large scribble sisters, towards the far back of the exhibition space, we see The Box, on a box, within a box… Framing, framed, Frames. The words “SINKING THAT FEELING”, if viewed from the right angle, perfectly frames once more these boxes, taking this entrapment from the floor to the wall, this dead-end horizon providing a canvas to the words projected. They “hug” the installation, they -strangle- incompletely.

The tangible quality of this installed work also happens to be the only piece that fully distances itself from all surrounding white walls. Instead, existing as four red fabric partitions giving the onlooker the ability to walk around the installation -as well as through it. Be daring and look at others through the red material, peak through the vast gaps of this broken cube, watch others as they watch the monitor, a man trapped within, and in, mud. Pulling one leg out drives the other leg in -exhaustion overworking self entrapment, an escape to where? A release to what? “That sinking feeling”, flashes alongside the work further reminding us of the inability to escape, how this cycle returns.

Discomfort is a word not misplaced in association to “Trickle Down Syndrome”, and perhaps these two pieces in discussion represent this concept justly. I would note however, that apart from this perhaps singular truth, Drew’s intentions are seemingly either accidentally into being or sometimes lost entirely. Inside the exhibition, I found myself more absorbed by my solipsism in that moment, attentions confused as I tried to rebalance basic comfort levels, ignoring the politics portrayed. An uneasy experience that is difficult to endure, if it were not for a moments rest and reflection away from that space, I would for sure not have this analysis. Perhaps a little too abstract an idea, I wouldn’t recommend the show, but on reflection I appreciate the fodder nonetheless.


DOROTHY HUNTER No Guts and No Glory
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.

The Trickle-Down Syndrome parallels the limits of human bodies with the organisational and systemic ones that utilise them, reframing their place in their machinations at will. Organs blow up, extend out, condense down. They seem to revolt against their position of servitude to a unified whole, a body whose identity is unknown to them, means nothing to them but ongoing labour.

Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.

In each corner of the main gallery an organised tangle of intestinal forms geometrically snakes across enormous wall hangings, weirdly evocative of William Morris, or as if cancer worked on an organ rather than cellular level. They flank dark nondescript organic forms on the hangings in between, printed on searing orange and green. One mass, seen on the rear wall hanging, is made of various shades of love-heart pink, more blatantly organic in the shaky network of striped tendrils that radiate outwards, obviously digitally and simply distended. Despite this, each print looks misleadingly relief-like in its spots and patterns of dark texture, with foregrounds crisply clipping backgrounds in the blankets of saturated colour.

Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.

In contrast, the physically handmade pieces within the installation are faux-naive. On an alter-like arrangement on a wide white stage, fleshy Plasticine borders are pressed around a painted mass of one-stroke ribs, cratered papier mache eyes sit on stalks metres long, or are dripping, primordial threats painted on drums. Hollow teeth-like forms are drawn on mirrors. On screens, a stuffed ream of 3d-rendered intestines slowly twirl, and hollow shapes move over the face of a female actor. This arrangement is symmetrically composed with some co-ordinating and mismatched layers of visual and sound, leaving her words and meaning indistinguishable. Technology clearly excels our ability to represent our own makeup.

Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.

There’s a sterile opulence, the backlit hangings lording over the space like religious icons. The trickle-down effect sees each strata of class in a cycle of aspiration to, and definition against, the other, causing a cycle of capitalist activity. The digital and handmade seem complicit in a similar cycle. The trickle-down isn’t active; the apparatus is too divided. Seeing a face, digitally rendered, sculpted, painted, only ever seems unreal. The only bodily exteriors seen revel in this. With haptic detachment from our interior, all we have are illustrations, perhaps the odd x-ray or ultrasound scan. Alienation is our normal state; feeling small in the unseen power we are passive to. There is no gore, no viscerality, only looped unknowns.

Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.

A man wades in mud, eventually reaches a sinking mule. Sound emanates from LIDL bags – one covertly painted with the words “DESIRE STUFF”. Such close shots make the actions hard to follow; red welding screens can be passed through or observed through – turning something a little scatological into something even more suggestive. It’s perhaps communistic, the red square exploded, overtly three dimensional in its symbol pulled back into real space.

Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.

It sits as a counterpoint to the yellow-gelled adjacent box room, where graphic eyes radiate from palms, taking a landscape-like slow pan across uncanny fleshy valleys on either side. It feels suggestive of a state achieved going up someone’s anus, both transcendent and comedic. Against the first space’s religious impression I’m reminded of the power constructs around abstracted ritualistic culture, a kind of hypnotic indulgence of self via bodily manipulation.

This exhibition makes my own materiality feel totally separate from my conscious self; my cellular intelligences seem to fall through. These systems don’t work if they’re closely observed, and indeed, don’t seem to invite this. I’m discomforted, hypnotised yet rejected by the work in the repellent combination of recorded, altered and synthetic space.


EMILY STAPLETON JEFFERIS Bendedict Drew: The Trickle Down System
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome (detail). Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome (detail). Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Sophia Kosmaoglou.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Sophia Kosmaoglou.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.

Is it a beating brain? Pulsating, pumping, streaming strands of black black lines. Or wait perhaps it is an embryo: dividing, spreading, evolving, mutating. A quivering uncomfortable mass of what we may become. This relentless throb thumping into my eyes, a hypnotic act of the digital spilling out of the screen into the reality of those black black hand painted lines which spread across the walls, across the floor.

They push me on, into the main space where I am surrounded, dwarfed by the bodily. Banners of intestinal patterns hang from the walls, intestines through which shit is channelled. Shit which trickles down, not money as was promised in that 80’s economic model. These banners mirror one another, create a reflection within the space. A reflection of the reflection present already within the work. Multiple layering and repeat adding to a sense of dislocation, a double take, a feeling of being overwhelmed. And with these intestinal forms are more banners. Squiggly black twisty messes of marks on punchy colour. Red. Red within the space adding to this sense of the visceral. Building upon the bodily sections present, which are only sections. What does this imply? Are these snapshots of the body suggesting that we are in a time in which we are no longer whole? A time beyond now, a dystopian future where we simply worship the wealthy, the rich, those with the money. This stage before me hints at this. It seems to act as an altar: a gong as a centrepiece, drums and screens surrounding, again arranged in a symmetrical manner, channelling thoughts of shamanism, hypnotism, of being sucked in and powerless, now incapable of making decisions. Even incapable of understanding: a woman on the screen is speaking and yet, I can only grasp one word or two. What is she talking about? And why do marks cross across the screen? They overlap her and themselves, create even more layers within this space. They seem to act to obscure, whilst also bringing a hand-drawn aesthetic into the digital, whilst the digital wires which mass from the screens seem to bring the digital into reality. There is cross over of what is real and what is unreal and a mess, it must be an intentional mess, as a result.

This mess, this confusion, forces me on around the corner into another room. And here there is more red. The red of welding screens arranged in a square within which a video of a muddy muddy quagmire plays. Are we about to become that man struggling within the mud? Are we already that man struggling within the mud? Is that donkey’s nose a premonition of the animals we have returned to being? The man slips and slides and scrambles. It appears existence is hopeless.

Moving on to the final room, a glowing yellow room which entices me in with the yellow of hope. Although there is no hope in there. More symmetry, more mirroring, more confusion. Dismembered hands channelling energy on the screen before me, and digital eyes collaged on top projecting outwards, reaching towards me. Other screens as bearers of flesh, gooey and soft, and yet not actually flesh. I cannot really gain the message, grasp this work, make many connections, and yet I like it. Aesthetically I am drawn to the bold, hand-drawn, hand-made pieces which contrast the slick digital effects. I relish this demonstration of the overwhelming world that we now inhabit, as it comforts me that I am not the only one to find it so. And I am also intrigued by this vision of the dystopian world that we may unconsciously wander into…


IAN BIRKHEAD In the Synthetic Bowel
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Ian Birkhead.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Ian Birkhead.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome (detail). Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome (detail). Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Ian Birkhead.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Ian Birkhead.

One of the firsts themes you’ll notice walking around the exhibition is the artists use of symmetry. The artist has used it in his previous work and obviously it helps with compositional balance, but I think in this case kind of suggests a cyclical nature to the journey he takes you on. For me at least it demonstrates the successful splitting of the cell at the start of the show, and also these hands that perhaps advertise products and they’re trying to hypnotise you while the video screens that are on either side of the room surround you in the synthetic bowel. Maybe after this you’ll be pooped out as a consumer crossed with a product. I also wonder if his work is in some way talking about the commodification of the self.

Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Sophia Kosmaoglou.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Sophia Kosmaoglou.

The main theme that showed its self to me and what I personally found quite interesting about the show was the combination of the synthetic and organic. Or perhaps more accurately the synthetic posing as the organic. This is first described in the wall hangings which are in a material reminiscent of a shower curtain or a table cloth with organic forms painted or printed onto them. The organic forms remind me of intestines but also roots and veins in there winding, connecting disorder, these are recurrent in the work. The central stage or alter holds two eyes and a that lead to a brain and at first glance they seem very organic but that might be due to the contrast of them against the backdrop of screens and wires and other very machined looking objects. On closer inspection the eyes are made of painted tinfoil. A manufactured material masquerading as something organic. Much like the relationship between social media influencers and there audience could be perceived as a (falsely) honest connection between brands and consumers when in reality its just another avenue for advertisement and consumption. In the last room there is a film playing on two screens that shows an ambiguous, at first glance fleshy, form that appears to be made form expanding foam an-other example of the artificial posing as the organic. As a whole this is representative to me of the human morphing into there consumer products. Or maybe it becoming less clear what the distinction between the consumer and the advertiser is. As well as highlighting consumer goods being en-trenched in the contemporary human experience.

Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Ian Birkhead.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Ian Birkhead.

The way things come out the screens and become physical is probably a direct reference to the trickle down theory and the new norm for consumer items to be replicated and produced and consumed quicker than ever, aided by social media and celebrity endorsement. This is why towards the end of the journey we watch a man bogged down by all the crap, that instead of trickling has pretty much flooded down underneath him to the point where he can barely walk.


JUN ABE Undergoing the Trickle-Down Syndrome: Underneath Your Flesh
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome (detail). Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome (detail). Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.

From the first work, I’m already dragged into the Drew’s art world. The first work is the pig skin-like surfaced lump with brain figured digital design collage in blue, which slightly expands and contracts with repeating heart-beat like sound. It looks my brain of having an epilepsy attack.

Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Sophia Kosmaoglou.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Sophia Kosmaoglou.

Then next, on the right and left wall, there are three-set brain-look photo based tapestries: red one on the right wall, and green one on the left as if they are right and left brain. Trickles of nerves literally down over the tapestries.

On the centre stage, there is a collaborative work:

Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Ian Birkhead.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Ian Birkhead.

Eye catching one is head-from-the-eye balls object surrounded by panels of road corns-ish figures. On each sides of the object, there are TV screens on which a woman is repeating unclear words with clacking noise of stones, and sometimes just a wasted land is projected. Black cables trickle down all over the floor.

Everything is scattered, noisy, occupied: there is no empty place. It is like our daily world where there are too much information and noise, never sleep, never stop.

On the left corner, the pile of newspapers is flowing nostalgically.

At the end, old-fashioned TV is, as if, left on the wooden box. On the screen, a man is stuck in the mud. The contrast of black and white TV screen and four red partitions around it don’t look vivid, rather the work seems to represent autism: shutting down oneself from the loud society and being stuck in black muddy inner silent world.

The works constitute what he calls submersion in social and environmental despair.

Though there is no real photo or video of human body, you can still “feel” it. You may feel as if your brain, body and mind are scanned, examined and exposed. At least I felt so.


TAMMY SMITH A sensory journey through absurdly visualised bodily functions vs the state economy
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.

I’m divided by what I’ve seen to how I feel. Upon entering Benedict Drew’s The Trickle-Down Syndrome exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery you’re greeted by a variety of visuals and sound. Drew uses a variety of materials, from animation, video, 2D

Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.

images, sculpture, installation and mixes both old and new technology. There’s a play with scale and his inspirations range from 1930’s stage sets to surrealist landscapes. He also references the human body and there are suggestions that it’s bodily functions that are hinted to rather than references to money or some material wealth.

Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.
Benedict Drew [2017] The Trickle-Down Syndrome. Installation view. Whitechapel Gallery, London. Photo Dorothy Hunter.

The message seems to border on the absurd and there’s this play between crude and refined. Did he run out of materials or budget when making some of his installations? Or is he making a bigger point? Likewise, having the cables and technology that enables him to visualise his films, does that somehow enhance his meanings? The absurd is also visualised with Drew’s powerful use of bright neon colours, clashes of random shapes and bizarre sounds such as the noise two pebbles make against each other.

Is it still classed as art if I don’t value or identify with it? Can I respect it even if I do not like it and find the ‘emotional sensory journey’ uncomfortable? Would I like this exhibition more if it wasn’t so in your face? Is it performance art if it’s about the viewer’s journey around the 1 artwork scattered throughout the one direction curated room? The experience of the journey is just as important? So the concept is stronger than the actual art? Would changing the way it’s curated change are feelings to the work?

The merits would be that it’s bold as his subject matter is niche and he’s clearly passionate about his work, it’s not necessarily going to be to everyone’s taste. How he chooses to exhibition his final pieces is intriguing, if indeed he gets much say.

In summary, it’s big, brash and bold, it’s an insight into the artist as much as it’s about the work. The journey you take is certainly an experience and it’s vagueness is cleverly left up to you to judge whether it’s brave or annoying. Is the concept better than the outcome? Do I appreciate what I’ve seen? Is this art?

I would argue that it’s not sophisticated, it lacks the multi layers of depth and meaning and is so niche that it’s like Marmite, you’re either going to love it or hate it. Which in one way it great to get such extremely responses out from his audience, but for me it just falls short, it doesn’t push the boundaries, it doesn’t use shock tactics and it doesn’t connect.

The fact that it makes me the viewer question this means that on some level maybe it deserves a little more of my respect and like Marmite only you can decide by taking the journey with the artist yourself.


ART&CRITIQUE (2015-2019)

ART&CRITIQUE (2015-2019)

ART&CRITIQUE was a peer-led alternative art education network dedicated to critical engagement with art practice, theory and research. It was founded in November 2015 and based at The Field and LARC. We employed collaborative, co-operative and collective models of pedagogy and organisation and fostered alternative models of art education in a series of public events. Continue reading ART&CRITIQUE (2015-2019)

STUDIO CRITIQUE

STUDIO CRITIQUE

The STUDIO CRIT was an opportunity for artists, curators, designers, film-makers and other producers to present their work to an audience of peers for discussion and feedback. These events were free and open to everyone. Please scroll down for the guidelines and event archive.
Continue reading STUDIO CRITIQUE

ART CRAWL

ART CRAWL

The art crawl was a series of tours organised by ART&CRITIQUE, on the last Saturday of the month we would head out to visit exhibitions and have a critical discussion on route. The itineraries were curated by members and contributors, supported with tools and guides available in the infosheet.

Mayfair to Fitzrovia: Joy, Dance, Magic – Three Artist Films

Saturday, 30 March 2019, 13:45 – 17:00
Meet 13:45 at Lévy Gorvy, 22 Old Bond St, Mayfair, London W1S 4PY
Curated by Eva Ruschkowski
Free, booking via Eventbrite

artcrawl#14Join us for a stroll from Mayfair to Fitzrovia to visit three galleries showing video works by Agnes Martin, Geta Brătescu and Rachel Rose. The Art & Critique Art Crawls are excursions that offer the opportunity to explore, articulate thoughts and critically discuss exhibitions in a group.

We will meet at 13:45 at Lévy Gorvy Gallery to begin our journey with Martin’s film ‘Gabriel’ (1976). We follow a fourteen-year-old boy, the protagonist of the film, on his leisurely meander through a rural landscape to take part in his innocent exploration of natural beauty. “[The movie] turned out to be about joy – the same thing my paintings are about” the artist states. By contrasting Martin’s film with her serene geometric experimentation on canvas which she mainly is known for, Lévy Gorvy allow a deeper insight into the artist’s work and, as the gallery proposes, to “linger in the pensive calm that Martin’s art, regardless of its medium, so exquisitely conveys.”

A similar juxtaposition of still and moving images will greet us at Hauser and Wirth, our second stop, which is showing a group of works Geta Brătescu made over the last decade. Richly informed by literature and mythology, Brătescu untiringly explores her fascination for drawing, composition and line. ‘When I draw, I can say that my hand dances’. Hauser and Wirth put her drawings and collages in conversation with two films ‘Linia (The Line)’ (2014) and ‘The Gesture, The Drawing’ (2018), which were created in collaboration with Ștefan Sava and give an intimate insight into Brătescu’s studio practice and creative thinking process.

We will round out our walk at Pilar Corrias with Rachel Rose’s atmospheric film set in 1500s rural England. ‘Wil-o-Wisp’ (2018) tells the story of Elspeth Blake, which was inspired by the fate of healers who practised in the time of the Enclosure Movement. Rose draws us in the realm of magic at the same time examining the drastic historical shift and its consequences caused by the privatisation of communal land.

ITINERARY MAP
13.45 FOCUS: Agnes Martin Lévy Gorvy, 22 Old Bond St, Mayfair, London W1S 4PY
15.00 Geta Brătescu Hauser & Wirth, 23 Savile Row, Mayfair, London W1S 2ET
16.00 Rachel Rose: Wil-o-Wisp Pilar Corrias, 54 Eastcastle St, Fitzrovia, London W1W 8EF

#13 Marylebone to South Kensington

Saturday, 30 September 2017, 13:45-17:00
Meet 13:45 at Lisson Gallery 27 Bell Street London NW15BY
Curated by Anca Baciu and Mandy Wong  

All welcome, booking not required

[ARTCRAWL] #13. Flyer by Many Wong.
[ARTCRAWL] #13. Flyer by Many Wong.

In September we’re meeting at Lisson Gallery to see an exhibition by Allora & Calzadilla and then walking through the park to the Serpentine Gallery to view an exhibition by Wade Guyton, ending the crawl with the LGBTQ Tour to explore gender and sexual identities in the Victoria & Albert Museum collection. Free, everyone welcome. No need to book, just join us at 2pm or along the way. Please see below for the itinerary and a map of the route.

ITINERARY MAP
13:45 Allora & Calzadilla: Foreign in a Domestic Sense Lisson Gallery 27 Bell Street London NW15BY
15:00 Wade Guyton: Das New Yorker Atelier, Abridged Serpentine Gallery Kensington Gardens London W2 3XA
16:00 LGBTQ Tour Victoria & Albert Museum Cromwell Road London SW72RL (meet at Grand Entrance)

#12 Visit to TOMA in Southend-on-Sea

23 July 2017, 12:20-18:00
Meet 12:20pm at Southend Central Station, Southend-on-Sea SS1 1AB
Curated by Emma Edmondson

All welcome, please book your place

The Other MA (TOMA)

In July we’ve been invited on an excursion to visit The Other MA (TOMA), a 12-month alternative art education model based at Metal Art School in Southend-on-Sea. Join us for a walking tour across the cultural landscape of Southend-on-Sea with the expert guidance of Emma Edmondson, founder and coordinator of TOMA. We will visit Focal Point Gallery and The Old Waterworks, Metal Culture – home of Metal Art School and TOMA – culminating the tour at TOMA artists’ studios. 

The suggested travel route to Southend Central is via the C2C line from London Fenchurch Street, Limehouse, West Ham or Barking. A C2C train service departs from Fenchurch Street at 11:04am and arrives 12:18pm at Southend Central. Please purchase your ticket to Southend Central as we will be hopping on and off the train all day. The ticket will allow you to do this.

NB. We will be doing much walking in between destinations! Please get in touch if you have access concerns.

ITINERARY MAP
12:20 Meet at Southend Central Station, Southend-on-Sea SS1 1AB
12:30 Have lunch in the Railway pub  (best vegan food in town)
13:30 Head to Focal Point Gallery to see Maximum Overdrive
15:00 Catch the train to Westcliff-on-Sea station, half hour walk and head to The Old Waterworks for Alison Loyd’s show
16:00 Catch the train from Westcliff station to Chalkwell Park to see the home of TOMA and Metal, Chalkwell Avenue, Southend on Sea SS0 8NB
17:00 Walk to TOMA artist Richard Baxter’s pottery studio (TBC)
18:00 Grab a drink in the multitude of pubs on the seafront and take in the Estuary views!

#11 Hampstead to Finsbury Park (via Mayfair)

Saturday, 24 June 2017, 14:00 -17:00
Starts 2pm at Freud Museum 20 Maresfield Gardens, Hampstead London NW3 5SX
Curated by Sophia Kosmaoglou
Free, booking not required

[ARTCRAWL] #11In June we’re venturing on an ambitious tour of London and taking public transport to see exhibitions at the Freud Museum and Furtherfield – venues that are off the beaten path. On the way we will stop at Thomas Dane in Mayfair. Below is a map of the route and a schedule with links to further information on the exhibitions. We will take the Jubilee line from the Freud Museum to Thomas Dane, and the Victoria line from there to Finsbury Park.

Please note that entry to the Freud Museum is £8 for adults, free for children under 12, £6 for senior citizens, £4 for students, unemployed, National Trust Members & National Art Pass Members. More details here.

SCHEDULE MAP
14:00 The Best Possible School: Anna Freud, Dorothy Tiffany Burlingham & the Hietzing School in 1920s Vienna. Freud Museum 20 Maresfield Gardens, Hampstead London NW3 5SX
15:15 Paul Pfeiffer. Thomas Dane 11 Duke Street, St James’s London SW1Y 6BN
16:15 NEW WORLD ORDER. Furtherfield Gallery McKenzie Pavilion, Finsbury Park London N4 2NQ

#10 Mayfair to Fitzrovia

Saturday, 28 January 2017, 14:00 -17:00
Curated by Cristina Sousa Martínez
Free, booking not required

[ARTCRAWL]#10web

On Saturday 28 January we’re meeting 2pm at Sophia Contemporary to see the exhibition Recipe for a Poem by Azadeh Razaghdoost. Then we will head to Hamilton’s Cafe to listen to Transitivity of Implication by Daniel Toca at the Museum of Portable Sound, please bring your headphones! We will wrap up with a visit to Carroll / Fletcher for the group exhibition United We Stand. Below is the schedule with links to exhibition details and a map of the route.

SCHEDULE MAP
14:00 Azadeh Razaghdoost Sophia Contemporary, 11 Grosvenor St, London W1K 4QB
15:00 Daniel Toca, Museum of Portable Sound Hamilton’s Café, 49 Maddox St, London W1S 2PQ
16:00 United We Stand Carroll / Fletcher, 56-57 Eastcastle St, London W1W 8EQ

#9 Hampstead to Camden Town (via Chalk farm)

Saturday 26 November 2016, 14:00 – 17:00
Curated by Katy Green
Free, booking not required

[ARTCRAWL] #9web

On Saturday, 26 November we’re meeting 2pm at Camden Arts Centre to see and exhibition of Bonnie Camplin‘s work. Then we will head to Zabludowicz Collection for the exhibition Basement Odyssey by Willem Weisman. Our final stop will be the group show Streams of Warm Impermanence with artists who work with Networked-Flesh at David Roberts Art Foundation. Please see below for the schedule and a map of the route.

SCHEDULE MAP
14:00 Bonnie Camplin Camden Arts Centre, Arkwright Road, London NW3 6DG
15:00 Willem Weisman Zabludowicz Collection, 176 Prince of Wales, Road London NW5 3PT
16:00 Streams of Warm Impermanence DRAF, Symes Mews, London NW1 7JE

#8 Camberwell to Peckham

Saturday 29 October 2016, 14:00-17:00
Free, booking not required

[GALLERYCRAWL] #8

On Saturday 29 October we’re heading south and meeting 2pm at the South London Gallery to see The Source of Art is in the Life of a People by Roman Ondak, followed by a stop at Arcadia Missa to see Amalia Ulman’s solo Labour Dance, ending at South Kiosk to see And the Earth Screamed, Alive, a multi screen 16mm installation by Emma Charles. Please see below for the schedule with links to exhibition details and a map of the route. Everyone welcome.

SCHEDULE MAP
14:00
Roman Ondak South London Gallery 65-67 Peckham Road London SE5 8UH
15:15 Amalia Ulman Arcadia Missa Unit 6 Bellenden Road Business Centre London SE15 4RF
16:15 Emma Charles  South Kiosk Unit B1.1 Bussey Building 133 Rye Lane SE15 3SN

#7 Mayfair to St James (via Soho)

Saturday 24 September 2016, 14:00-17:00
Free, booking not required

[GALLERYCRAWL] #7web

On Saturday 24 September we’re meeting at Timothy Taylor to see Shez Dawood’s solo, followed by Mike Kelley’s 1999 installation Framed and Frame at Hauser & Wirth and Uri Aran’s controversial show at Sadie Coles, ending with the Jannis Kounellis retrospective at White Cube. We’re spoiled for choice this month so we’ve crammed four exhibitions into this one. See below for the schedule with links to exhibition details and a map of the route.

SCHEDULE MAP
14:00
Shezad Dawood: Kalimpong Timothy Taylor 15 Carlos Place London W1K 2EX
14:45 Mike Kelley: Framed and Frame Hauser & Wirth 23 Savile Row London W1S 2ET
15:30 Uri Aran: Two Things About Suffering Sadie Coles 62 Kingly Street London W1B 5QN
16:15 Jannis Kounellis White Cube 25 – 26 Mason’s Yard London SW1Y 6BU

#6 Mayfair to Fitzrovia

Saturday 30 July 2016, 14:00-17:00
Free, booking not required

[GALLERYCRAWL] #6

On Saturday 30 July we’re meeting at at Simon Lee Gallery to see the work of Bas Jan Ader who disappeared at sea in 1975. We will then head north to see the work of Felix Gonzalez-Torres curated by Julie Ault and Roni Horn at Hauser & Wirth. Our final stop will be at Carroll/Fletcher to see Abuse Standards Violations by Eva and Franco Mattes. Please see below for the schedule with links to exhibition details and a map of the route.

SCHEDULE MAP
14:00
Bas Jan Ader Simon Lee Gallery 12 Berkeley Street London W1J 8DT
15:00 Felix Gonzalez-Torres Hauser & Wirth 23 Savile Row London W1S 2ET
16:15 Eva and Franco Mattes Carroll/Fletcher 56-57 Eastcastle St London W1W 8EQ

#5 Hackney to Shoreditch

Saturday 25 June 2016, 14:00-17:00
Curated by Dasha Loyko
Free, booking not required

[GALLERYCRAWL] #5 webflyer

On Saturday 25 June we will meet at The Residence Gallery to see Info Pura, a group exhibition on knowledge, information and experience. Next we will visit Salon des Refuses at SPACE to see the work of Dasha Loyko and other artists rejected from the Royal Academy summer exhibition. Last stop is Blood For Light by Nastivicious at Waterside Contemporary. Please see below for the schedule with links to exhibition details and a map of the route.

SCHEDULE MAP
14:00 
Info Pura Residence Gallery 229 Victoria Park Road London E9 7HD
15:00 Salon des Refuses SPACE 129-131 Mare Street London E8 3RH
16:15 Nastivicious Blood For Light Waterside Contemporary 2 Clunbury St N1 6TT

#4 Hackney to Shoreditch

Saturday 4 June 2016, 14:00-17:00
Curated by Penelope Kupfer
Free, booking not required

[GALLERYTOUR] #4 webflyer

On Saturday 4 June we will meet at Cambridge Heath Station and set off for Vilma Gold to see the work of Oliver Stone and Luther Price. Next we will make our way to Espacio Gallery for a group exhibition titled Organism, featuring the work of Penelope Kupfer among an illustrious list of artists. Last stop is Paulo Nimer‘s solo show at Maureen Paley. See below for the schedule and map of the route with links to exhibition details. Free, no need to book.

SCHEDULE MAP
14:00
Cambridge Heath Station Hackney, London E2 9EG
14:15 Oliver Stone & Luther Price Vilma Gold 6 Minerva St, London E2 9EH
15:15 Organism Espacio Gallery 159 Bethnal Green Road London E2 7DG
16:15 Paulo Nimer Maureen Paley 21 Herald Street London E2 6JT

#3 Hyde Park to Shadwell

Saturday 14 May 2016, 14:00-18:00
Curated by Penelope Kupfer
Free, booking not required

[GALLERYTOUR] #3 webflyer

On Saturday, 14 May 2016 we will meet at the Serpentine Gallery at 2pm to view Hilma af Klimt: Painting the Unseen and then make our way to the Sackler Gallery to view of the exhibition by DAS INSTITUT. Then we will head to the Rum Factory near Shadwell DLR station to see the work of Richard Burger. See below for the schedule and map of the route with links to exhibition details. Free, no need to book, just join us at 2pm. Latecomers can join us along the way.

SCHEDULE MAP
14:00
Serpentine Gallery Kensington Gardens, London W2 3XA
14:15 Hilma af Klint Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, London W2 3XA
15:00 DAS INSTITUT Serpentine Sackler Gallery, W Carriage Dr, London W2 2AR
16:00 Lancaster Gate Tube Station Central Line to Bank, then DLR to Shadwell
17:00 Open Studios 2016 Rum Factory, Bow Arts, Unit 4, Pennington Street, E1W 2BD

#2 Whitechapel to Liverpool Street

Saturday 30 April 2016, 14:00-17:00
Free, booking not required

[GALLERYTOUR] #2 web-flier

On Saturday, 30 April 2016 we will meet at the bookshop inside the Whitechapel Gallery at 2pm to view Harun Farocki‘s video installation Parallel I-IV and  the archival exhibition Imprint 93 with prints by young British artists of the 1990s. Then we will head to Raven Row near Liverpool Street to see the work of Channa Horwitz. Please see below for the schedule and a map of the route. Free event, no need to book. Latecomers can join us along the way.

SCHEDULE MAP
14:00
Whitechapel Gallery 77-82 Whitechapel High St. London E1 7QX
14:15 Harun Farocki Parallel I-IV Whitechapel Gallery
15:00 Imprint 93 Whitechapel Gallery
16:00 Channa Horwitz Raven Row 56 Artillery Lane London E1 7LS

#1 Hoxton to Mile End

Saturday 19 March 2016, 14:00-17:00
Free, booking not required

[GALLERYTOUR] #1 web-flier

On Saturday, 19 March 2016 we will meet at Hoxton Rail Station at 2pm. From there we will walk to xero, kline & coma to see Under the Shade I Flourish by Chris Alton. Heading east we will stop at Cell Project Space to see Ian Ball ‘s Praseodymium Intracrine Signal Aggregate and and we will end the tour with Park McArthur‘s Poly at Chisenhale Gallery. Please see below for the schedule and a map of the route. Free event, no need to book, just join us at 2pm. Latecomers can join us along the way.

SCHEDULE MAP
14:00
Hoxton Rail Station Geffrye Street, London E2 8EA
14:15 Chris Alton: Under the Shade I Flourish xero, kline & coma, 258 Hackney Road, London E2 7SJ
15:15 Iain Ball  Cell Project Space, 258 Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 9DA
16:15 Park McArthur: Poly Chisenhale Gallery, 64 Chisenhale Road, London E3 5QZ

Badiou, Autonomy, Dissidents

On Friday, 14 October we’re reading the first chapter of Alain Badiou‘s Handbook of Inaesthetics with Badiou scholar Kerry W. Purcell at [SYMPOSIUM] book club. Note that this event is fully booked, please follow the link to join the waiting list and we will be in touch if there are cancellations. On Saturday, 15 October we’re discussing Autonomy & Critique with Dasha Loyko at the next Studio Crit, please follow the link to book your place. In October the Gallery Crawl is heading to south east London, for more details please read on.

Dissident Island Radio stickers.
Dissident Island Radio stickers.

Last month we saw  Mike Kelley‘s 1999 installation Framed and Frame at Hauser & Wirth, well worth  a visit to see this complex installation with a fascinating archive of preparatory drawings, photos and documents at. If you plan to visit Shez Dawood‘s show at Timothy Taylor don’t forget to book…

On the 2nd of September 2016 we were invited to a interview on alternative art education at Dissident Island Radio. Sophia and Johanna joined James from Squash Campaign, Andy from LDMG and the Dissident Island crew for a live broadcast at their LARC studio in Whitechapel. The podcast is available to listen to or download from Dissident Island or the Internet Archive.

Alain Badiou and Kerry W. Purcell have lunch in 2015.[SYMPOSIUM] BOOK CLUB
Badiou: Art & Philosophy
Friday, 14 October 2016, 6:00-8:30pm
The Field, 385 Queens Road, London SE14 5HD
Chaired by Kerry W. Purcell
Free, waiting list only

Dasha Loyko [2016] Tips For Designing Your Dream Bathroom (maquette of central fragment).[ART&CRITIQUE] STUDIO CRIT
Dasha Loyko: Autonomy and Critique
Saturday, 15 October 2016
3:00pm – 5:00pm
The Field, 385 Queens Road, New Cross, London SE14 5HD
Free, please book your place

[GALLERYCRAWL] #8[ART&CRITIQUE] GALLERY CRAWL
From Camberwell to Peckham
Saturday 29 October 2016, 2:00-5:00pm
Roman Ondak SLG Amalia Ulman Arcadia Missa Emma Charles South Kiosk
Please visit the website for the details & a map of the route
Free, booking not required

IMAGE CREDITS
Alain Badiou and Kerry W. Purcell have lunch in 2015.

Dasha Loyko [2016] Tips For Designing Your Dream Bathroom (maquette of central fragment).

Sontag, Art & Philosophy

Welcome to a new season at [ART&CRITIQUE]. We have two events coming up this month starting with a discussion of Susan Sontag‘s essay Against Interpretation on Friday, 9 September, followed by a [GALLERYCRAWL] from Mayfair to St James (via Soho) on Saturday, 24 September. In October we welcome Badiou scholar Kerry W. Purcell who will be chairing a discussion of Alain Badiou’s Art & Philosophy, the first chapter of Handbook of Inaesthetics (2004).

Last Year at Marienbad [1961] Dir. Alain Resnais. France-Italy, black & white, 94min.[SYMPOSIUM] BOOK CLUB Sontag: Against Interpretation
Friday 9 September 2016, 6:00-8:30pm
The Field, 385 Queens Road, London SE14 5HD
Chaired by F. D.
Free, please book your place
Please visit the website for more details, to book & download the text.

[GALLERYCRAWL] #7web[GALLERYCRAWL] From Mayfair to St James (via Soho)
Saturday 24 September 2016, 2:00-5:00pm
Timothy Taylor 15 Carlos Place London W1K 2EX
Timothy Taylor / Hauser & Wirth / Sadie Coles / White Cube Mason’s Yard
Free, booking not required
Please visit the website for the details & a map of the route.

Alain Badiou and Kerry W. Purcell have lunch in 2015.[SYMPOSIUM] BOOK CLUB Badiou: Art & Philosophy
Friday 14 October 2016, 6:00-8:30pm
The Field, 385 Queens Road, London SE14 5HD
Chaired by Kerry W. Purcell
Free, please book your place
Please visit the website for more details, to book & download the text.