3 Scrutton Street. There’s something uncomfortable about the name. Scrutton like mutton or dutty or scruples. As it was, it was Scrutton in the rain. I turned to Kupfer for shelter and Allow Cookies gifted sanctuary in spades. Sanctuary for artists to robe and disrobe. Sanctuary for gallery-goers to irony-bathe. Though perhaps ‘sheltered’ is the wrong word to describe this type of deliberately provocative space.
Allow Cookies is the manifestation of a curatorial wish list belonging to Laurie Barron, Isabel Davies, and Isabel Walter. A list or fever dream, comprising three floors of artificial eclecticism where artists, both individually and as a collective, rub glamour into sincerity.
What I mean by this, is that each of the works on display seemed to bristle against the idea of authenticity, albeit in different ways. And in the end authenticity is shown itself a sham with a Janus double face.
For starters, there were the works that delivered all the classic kitsch-ness you would expect of the rhinestoned queer artistic underbelly. Sequins, chains, flagrant smudges of sex. It’s an overt opulence that we’ve been taught to devalue as ‘fake’. Seduction too easy to be genuine.
On the other hand, the curators intersperse works that portray a commitment to the soft-core ‘understate’. That is content that present as mundane, conventional and stripped-back. How easily we tend to presume the honesty of the plain.
Allow Cookies does not attempt to answer which end of the spectrum is more farcical but across the space a carnival tradition plays out, and Kupfer on Scrutton Street plays perfect host to the parade.
Geo Stuart’s “Morning walks through the misty forest”
A study on serendipity or the conceited ability of humans to find themselves in everything. Here, we are given three coy smiles emerging from polished jade. The pallet is low-lit and in the background, the forest sits obediently amidst a haze. Good nature is presently good naturedly and yet tranquillity is AI-made. Smiling earth may be believable but it’s manufactured with uncertain malice.
Hong Xi Li's "Travel Light"
A nonchalant performance screaming out deadpan disinterest. A mixed-media set, showing the artist undressing and elegantly draping their evening wear into a portable industrial shredder. Instead of personal connection, the ability to watch the artists’ unclothing invokes chilled soullessness. It’s an attitude, a deliberate disregard for expendable possessions and it mocks the insolence of consumers. Ravaged glamour decorously disposed of. What is the motive of this cool-girl robot?
Woodsy Bransfield's "Two (Hoping)"
An aesthetic more regularly disregarded for its ‘tastelessness’ and vulgarity. Bransfield creates an aluminium mirror of an identity algorithms have devised for them and what comes back is brazen and obvious. Diamanté chains collaring nothing.
Firpal’s untitled-red-series + Ana Viktoria Dzinic INDEX: Studio #12 + Sofia Hallström’s Quartile (study)
Studies on pictorial manipulation. Pixels, paint and polaroid’s distorting perception. The effect of medium on medium makes for uncomfortable places. The deceit is less and more clear across the artists yet whether the foils are clean or dirty, the disguises remain.
Dani Marcel's "Teal Star" and "Purple Star" + Anya Gorkova's collection inc. "Shine Bright Like a Diamond," "Glamorous," and "Pervert"
They read like every bootleg girl’s bedroom in the 90s. Except it’s already been outgrown. The innocence of mirror balls, midriffs and fluffy pens bear the brand of pasted ransom notes. The princesses have grown up. If you can’t escape the fetish, profit from its joke.
Louis Blue Newby & Laila Majid’s “Spread” + Waj Hussain’s *play43 SLE4Z3
Offer mouths full. All discretion removed. What you get is what you see. And yet, there is a depth to the faux magazines, a strange sincerity in personal adverts and zips that quick release, phrases which sit ardently. A Jesmonite mould of an ergonomic sex pillow sits between on the floor. It is an interesting curtsey to comfort accompanying something many would find uncomfortable.
Lowena Hearn's "Fireplace,"
A hand pulled framework of plaster, wood, shells, and wax, dried-clay white, so natural. Yet the scale of the piece is imposing, it’s twisted, bulbous and lobsided. It’s the hunchback in the hallway and for this you cannot unlove it’s ugly ambiance. Its tiny candlesticks offer a proverbial glow to contrast the silver gloss upon many of the walls. It’s dated and ossified, but inauthentic in its modernity. An idol in its own accord.
In sum, the exhibition was like a gallery of other sorts, a window housing fantasies, the thinly veiled expressions of stock-type escorts. As buyer-come-consumer, view, try, and buy – but do not expect the art to ever be yours.
The exhibition runs until this coming Saturday.
In contrast to the human written article above, the below article was written in 12 seconds by ChatGBT following the below prompt. Cookies were allowed throughout.
Write a 1000 word review of the art exhibition based on this programme :
Woodsy Bransfield, Ana Viktoria Dzinic, Anya Gorkova, Lowena Hearn, Sofia Hallström, Waj Hussain, firpal, Hongxi Li, Louis Blue Newby & Laila Majid, Dani Marcel, Geo Stuart
Friday 14 July – Saturday 29 July, 2023 Opening: Thursday 13 July, 6–9pm
Curated by Laurie Barron, Isabel Davies & Isabel Walter
untitled-red-series-3 (gargoyle), 2023 Digital print on clear acetate
29.7 x 42 cm
untitled-red-series-2 (flower), 2023 Digital print on clear acetate
29.7 x 42 cm
untitled-red-series-5 (caves), 2023 Digital print on clear acetate
29.7 x 42 cm
Ana Viktoria Dzinic
INDEX: STUDIO #12, 2023 Polaroid print
10.7 x 9 cm (unframed) 47.5 x 38.8 cm (framed)
Plaster, wood, shells, candles 170 x 123 x 32 cm
Two (Hoping), 2022
Aurora Borealis diamenté on etched aluminium in pearlescent artist's frame 150 x 100 cm
Ana Viktoria Dzinic
INDEX: STUDIO #3, 2023 Polaroid print
10.7 x 9 cm (unframed) 29 x 25 cm (framed)
Hong Xi Li
Travel Light, 2022
Aluminium, plastic, steel, acrylic, polyester, rhinestone, rubber, armoured cable
80 x 43.5 x 46 cm
Morning walks through the misty forest, 2023 C-Type Fuji gloss on aluminium
86.3 × 145.1 cm
Quartile (Study), 2023
Oil and mixed media on silk screened canvas 120 x 90 cm
Leaf of Roadside Bush (Finding Faces 238), 2023
C-Type Fuji gloss on aluminium
26.6 x 20 cm
Teal star, 2023 Acrylic on canvas 101.6 x 101.6 cm
Purple star, 2023 Acrylic on canvas 101.6 x 101.6 cm
A star was born, 2023
Green light on light sensitive paper (RA-4), jelly paint, silver spray paint, crystal rhinestone ribbon, number stickers, rhinestone stickers mounted on aluminium sheet
25 x 50 cm
Shine bright like a diamond, 2023
9 appropriated upcycled darkroom prints (ra-4), epoxy, crystal rhinestone stickers, rhinestone stickers
36 x 44 cm
4 appropriated upcycled darkroom prints (ra-4), epoxy, square mosaic mirror tiles, sand, pva, letter stickers
25 x 15 cm
19 appropriated upcycled darkroom prints ra-4, epoxy, sand, PVA, rhinestone stickers, square mosaic mirror
50 x 60 cm
Water Splash on Steel Counter (Finding Faces 84), 2023
C-Type fuji pearl on aluminium
26.6 × 20 cm
Review by AI
Title: Allow Cookies - A Diverse Journey of Contemporary Art at Kupfer
The art exhibition "Allow Cookies," hosted at Kupfer from Friday 14th July to Saturday 29th July, 2023, brought together an eclectic array of talented artists showcasing their exceptional works across three floors. Curated by Laurie Barron, Isabel Davies, and Isabel Walter, the exhibition provided visitors with an immersive experience into the diverse world of contemporary art. The showcase featured a diverse group of artists including Woodsy Bransfield, Ana Viktoria Dzinic, Anya Gorkova, Lowena Hearn, Sofia Hallström, Waj Hussain, firpal, Hongxi Li, Louis Blue Newby & Laila Majid, Dani Marcel, and Geo Stuart.
Upon entering the Ground Floor, firpal's "untitled-red-series" caught the eye with its striking digital prints on clear acetate. The intricately detailed images of a gargoyle, a flower, and caves exuded an enigmatic ambiance, pulling viewers into a world of visual ambiguity and mystery. Ana Viktoria Dzinic's "INDEX: STUDIO" series, presented in Polaroid prints, added a touch of intimacy to the space. Each photograph offered a glimpse into the artist's creative process, leaving room for viewers' interpretation.
Lowena Hearn's "Fireplace," a sculptural installation made from plaster, wood, shells, and candles, commanded attention with its rustic allure. The fusion of natural elements and flickering candles created an inviting ambiance, enticing visitors to delve deeper into its meaning. Woodsy Bransfield's "Two (Hoping)" was equally captivating, with the diamenté on etched aluminium reflecting the shimmering beauty of the Aurora Borealis.
Hong Xi Li's "Travel Light" stood out as a remarkable mixed-media sculpture. The innovative use of materials like aluminium, plastic, steel, acrylic, polyester, rhinestones, and rubber merged seamlessly to evoke a sense of lightness and freedom, capturing the essence of travel.
As visitors ascended to the First Floor, Geo Stuart's photography series "Morning walks through the misty forest" mesmerized viewers with its breathtaking visuals. Each C-Type Fuji gloss print on aluminium depicted ethereal landscapes, enveloped in the embrace of mist, inviting viewers to immerse themselves in nature's tranquility.
Sofia Hallström's "Quartile (Study)" was a captivating blend of oil and mixed media on silk screened canvas. The artist's bold strokes and use of mixed media created an enigmatic yet harmonious composition that evoked thoughts of exploration and introspection. Geo Stuart's "Leaf of Roadside Bush (Finding Faces 238)" presented another dimension of his photographic prowess, capturing nature's serenity in a small but powerful print.
On the Second Floor, Dani Marcel's acrylic-on-canvas series "Teal Star" and "Purple Star" captivated viewers with their vibrant hues and expressive brushwork. The abstract art pieces seemed to express the artist's emotions, providing an emotional connection with the viewers.
Anya Gorkova's collection was a true testament to the artist's versatility and creativity. "A Star Was Born" presented a captivating mix of light-sensitive paper, jelly paint, and rhinestones on an aluminium sheet. "Shine Bright Like a Diamond," "Glamorous," and "Pervert" showcased the artist's ability to transform upcycled darkroom prints into remarkable and thought-provoking creations, challenging societal norms and perceptions.
Geo Stuart's "Water Splash on Steel Counter (Finding Faces 84)" concluded the exhibition with its captivating C-Type Fuji pearl print on aluminium, capturing a fleeting moment of beauty that is often overlooked in daily life.
Overall, "Allow Cookies" was a resounding success, reflecting the diversity and creativity of contemporary art. The curators' brilliant curation allowed each artist's voice to shine brightly, creating an exhibition that was both visually captivating and intellectually stimulating. The thought-provoking pieces invited viewers to delve into the complexities of the human experience, nature, and society. Kupfer played the perfect host to this artistic journey, leaving visitors with an unforgettable experience of creativity and inspiration.