8 December 2011


Group Shot - performersSHOP interior 1    Opening PughShop Interior 3 Opening performance 2
all images Courtesy ShowStudio     

Aggressive; exhibitionistic; self-flagellatory. Three words vividly evoked by the performances, sculptures and images on display at "In Your Face", a new exhibition which opened last Thursday at London’s ShowStudio. The space itself is the physical component of fashion uber-photographer Nick Knight’s slick web-platform of the same name. Dedicated to the slippery genre of fashion film, showstudio.com celebrates the pageantry and peacockry of fashion at it’s performative best. Aggressive, exhibitionistic, self-flagellatory. Three words that could equally be applied to the primal drives of the fashion industry itself, and its often brutal excesses.
Centred on a contextually apt if overly facile preoccupation with the corporeal, the show’s star-studded ranks include Mapplethorpe’s heroic, photographic rendering of the male body as structural form, Leigh Bowery-esque bondage gear from fashion’s enfant terrible, Gareth Pugh, and painter Anj Smith’s darkly surreal portrait, R.F. This is a show about fetishisation, about the overwhelming objectness of the body and its perverse, almost excessive presence.

More perverse is that for all the show’s purported emphasis on the live and the performative, it essentially amounts to a glossy archive of performance documentation. The document, it can be said, fetishizes, functioning according a similar over-valorisation of one object in an attempt to displace, disguise or disavow the absence of another. To be sure, there are some beautiful and provocative images in this show, but too many - such as those showing the bloodied “catwalk” in Franco B’s "I Miss You" performance - feel castrated, impotent, severed of their visceral, proximate impact.

Likewise, the show flies unabashedly in the face of a certain critical logic that continues to privilege live performance as defiant resistance of the market economy so fundamental to contemporary art. In this schema performance as current  (physical/durational/live) is irrecuperable as currency (cannot be sold/traded/reproduced). Bold and brazen, "In Your Face" refutes such assertions. It is, after all, a show in a shop. A fact whose banality becomes paradoxically definitive. 

In your Face
until the 4th of February

1 - 9 Bruton Place


Opening Hours: Monday to Friday, 11:00 - 18:00

Opening performance 1
 SHOP interior 2
Opening interior
Opening exterior