Gallery exhibition

This is the page that is devoted purely to my project and exhibition of Trophallaxis at TenderPixel Gallery in late 2009. This was a joint exhibition will Lizzie Cannon and her installation was called ‘Concreus Palibracchius’. This is where you can most clearly see the influence of William Hogarth in my work, as this show in many ways was a homage to him and the hugely beneficial effect he has had on my life thus far. All five of my installations in this show are all social critiques, with the theme of ‘What do we worship today’ hence the creation of lightboxes (1.5M x 75cm) in the style of stained glass windows, in an attempt to literally ‘illuminate’ the issues. Although my work and expression is very different in style to Hogarth, I would say almost 250 years on, many of the issues he was addressing are still familiar today. In my research I found the correlation between issues then and now very striking. With each work I will provide it’s original gallery synopsis to provide my reflections on my work at that time. A little verbose of me perhaps but this is a blog after all.

In essence. ‘Champagne Salute’ (alternative title; ‘The Gun, The Knife & The Booty Girl’) is influenced by W.H’s ‘The Four Stages of Cruelty’. ‘Worship of the Barren Eve‘ by ‘A Harlot’s Progress’. ‘N.A.S’ by ‘Gin Lane & Beer Street’ and ‘The Golden Handshake‘ (also referred to as ‘The Sir Fred Goodwin’) by ‘The Rakes Progress’. ‘Trophallaxis‘ however is much more to do with environmental issues and ‘Trash culture’

Champagne Salute (or… The Gun, The Knife and The Booty Girl)

This work is a powerful reference to gang culture and the glamorisation of violence, yet Brown is also suggesting that through the active consumption and wider engagement with culture, one can become ’emancipated’ gaining personal empowerment. It is also implying that this culture should be taken very seriously as it does have an impact on society, and no longer exists on the ‘fringe’ as a small niche. Impossible to ignore, the prominent height of the trio of ‘leaders’ in the light-box dwarfs the symbolic reference to justice and order (parliament & Big Ben) suggesting that perhaps the problem may be too big for politicians to deal with alone.

Brown has also created this panel to show that it is in fact the ‘hoodies’, the youth of today, that will be the future adults of tomorrow, he asks us to imagine what a future full of violence will be like for society as a whole? The faces of each hoodie is in constant shadow because the hood serves as a uniform of anonymity. One cannot be accountable directly if you cannot be identified.  The red figure in the large trio also references Soviet propaganda posters and the power of the proletariat. Society looks down on hoodies, individually younger generations have more access to information and autonomy than their parents did, but they seem to also have less guidance? Brown feels that ‘hoodies’ are also seen as ‘the other’ and linked with practises that are separate from society? The highwayman, the hermit, the pilgrim, the monk and the wizard are also linked to hoods, if you need to protect or conceal your thoughts first you must cover your head? There are also aspects of head covering one could associate with certain religions? Brown; “I feel that when we conceal our face we are no longer quite part of public and society, we are present physically, but not accessible socially?”

Champagne Salute

Worship of the Barren Eve

Contemporary society is obsessed with celebrity and thinness, and the preservation of youth at all costs, this is an example of the extremes that people go to. Eve has a head adornment that is in reference to the Russian Icon ‘Halo’ as in a divine entity. Halo’s are also known within the sphere of astronomy. The five pointed stars are representative of the unusual movements of planet Venus (as viewed from Earth) and is considered a benevolent and feminine planet. Venus represents/influences art, culture, society and its mechanisms, attraction and beauty, just like the goddess Venus/Aphrodite who was considered the epitome of feminine beauty. This symbolism suggests that the skeletal figure is meant to be a ‘desirable’ representation of a woman.

The moon is also referenced in Eve’s crown, the moon has always been linked with feminine energy and power. There are nine moons on the crown, a reference to the nine stages of procreation, and the duration of time in months it takes to have a child. Note that there is no ‘Full Moon’ on her halo because there can be no progression as she is ‘barren’, her body is so malnourished that it is incapable of having children. Brown is fascinated by the ‘size zero madness’ in contemporary society. He sees this lust for thinness as a desire to ‘disappear’, in order to increase ones power and influence one must almost have less physical presence, especially, but not exclusively the female sex. Victoria Beckham (it can be argued) is a good example of this obsession. Brown wonders where this will all lead, and what it means for women who do not identify with this trend? Eve is holding a pill, perhaps it is a diet pill, perhaps it is a symbol for other addictive drugs, or even ‘the pill’ as in contraceptive, and the ability to control ones own fertility. There is also an art world celebrity reference within this panel to Hirst’s artistic obsession with death and pharmaceuticals, note the butterfly near Eve’s red shoe.

Worship of the Barren Eve

N.A.S (National Alcoholics Service)

A play on NHS, and it’s increasing frustration that it is having to deal not with operations that save lives, but pumping the stomachs of those who have drunk too much, and alcohol related injuries. The work is depicts both the joy and the abandon that is felt when drunk. The presence of the ambulance serves as a kind of warning of where these excesses can lead. This is also echoed in the slanting to the right of the picture, Brown is suggesting that society is going ‘Down hill’ the view itself is in reference to Primrose Hill, which has become a euphemism for the ‘Primrose Hill set’ or ‘The Notting Hill set’ – the likes of Kate Moss and Sadie Frost (and to a lesser extent Sienna Miller) celebrities who have become well known for their excessive partying.

N.A.S (National Alcoholics Service)

The Golden Handshake’ (the Sir Fred Goodwin)

The Golden Handshake is a reference to an old school term for when one retires, it was traditional at one point that a golden watch was given as an appreciation of loyal service. Of course this is intended to be ironic as Sir Fred has been anything but loyal…? It’s a dig at his massive 16 million pound pension (£693,000 a year for life) and it is also an exploration of the moral rot of excessive bonuses. The red bag and gold emblem act as symbols relating directly to the Chancellor of the exchequer, and how the public finances are indebted by 20 billion pounds in bailing out RBS. The helicopter tries to depict a daring or an audacious escape, and the roulette wheel ‘helipad’ of course depicts how the bankers have ruthlessly gambled with our money. 

The Golden Handshake

Trophallaxis

Brown has metaphorically and etymologically applied the concept of Trophallaxis to the collective cultural stomach of humanity: This project, and in particular the Trophallaxis light box serves as an in-depth look at the constant consumption and regurgitation of ideas and obsessions.  Brown’s exploitative use of iconic symbols disturbingly reflects what contemporary society collectively worships and glamorises on a daily basis. Trophallaxis is a form of feeding that insects and animals employ, it is mouth to mouth or anus to mouth feeding, in this type of feeding, younger insects can share digestive enzymes with each other, spread pheromones and strengthen or weaken the overall stomach of the group which feeds together. In this lightbox Brown has suggested metaphorically the mass consumption and regurgitation of British society’s obsession with fame, celebrity, consumerism, capitalism, social unrest and alcohol.

Beautifully crafted and sensitively illustrated, Hogarth’s light boxes draw the viewer in.

Trophallaxis