the art of consumption

Etienne Clement Cesar Baracca Jörg Obergfell
Kira Kim Lucy Leonard Pei-Shih Tu Helen Murphy

curated by Helen Murphy

24 november - 22 december 2015

private view
friday 23 november 6 - 9pm

 This exhibition showcases seven diverse artistic practices including sculpture, textiles, mosaics, collage, photography and digital technology, articulating unique perspectives on our ambivalent relationship to consumer culture. Exploring many aspects of consumerism, from credit, branding, recycling, and commodities, through to a state of anxiety associated with an accumulation of possessions, others look further afield to examine the effects of western consumption on those in far flung places. Regardless of critical position, there is one dilemma shared by all: a love/hate relationship with consumption.

Exemplifying this are Cesar Baracca’s mosaics, constructed from recycled credit cards. Beyond their expiry date, the cards maintain iconic properties and assume, through Cesar’s manipulation, a surplus value, which becomes the object of our passion to the seductive lure of the glistening commodity.

Jörg Obergfell’s model sized sculptures made from recycled, publicity and packaging materials, with references to the disposable elements of consumerism, operate as a tactic of resistance to the urge for the latest new product. His dumpster diver, for instance, may well be an image of himself scouring skips for his materials, but the title ‘born to shop’ offers an ironic twist.

Lucy Leonard works with ideas around space, storage solutions, and pressures to obtain the ideal home. In her ‘Sort’ animation a crammed kitchen drawer miraculously sorts itself into compartments, arranging its contents into a pleasing but insidious order. Lucy has created a new micro sculpture of a viral shelving system, an eerie, out of control construction of order caught between domination and ruin.

Related to the domestic sphere are Helen Murphy’s wallpapers and apparition-like 3D portraits, where she plays with repetition and distortion of recontextualised celebrity imagery. She highlights disturbing levels of body mutilation in a futile drive for physical perfection, and a blurring of boundaries between image and reality.

Etienne Clement’s photographs also reference the aesthetic tropes of the culture industry, with similarly colourful vision. Staged in architectural and dilapidated settings, aging figurines are transformed to portray recognisable caricatured personalities, reminiscent of narratives that are sometimes all too real, and reveal a sinister underbelly of the world we inhabit.

Kira Kim makes a clear critical comment with his giant, colour evolving, LED Coca Killer sign, and still life photographs depicting arrays of unappetising fast food.

Pei-Shih Tu’s animations also convey a strong political stance, addressing concerns about globalisation. Pei-Shih has produced a series of new collages, exploring the paradox of artistic consumerism.