Just recovering from the launch party of the 5th Hoxton Biennale. The months of preparation are as exhausting as they are exhilarating, but it’s worth all the effort when I see the streets, cafes, bars, galleries and public buildings filling with heart-stopping works of staggering genius. Strong themes from a wonderfully eclectic crowd this year. Just goes to show the healthy state of fine art in the East End, and why this enclave of creativity has become such a global honeypot. The show ends 31st March so come on down and see for yourself.
Max Oldenburg – ‘Green Air Bags’
Sponsored by London Overground, this work at Hoxton Station evokes the adrenaline rushes implicit in the anticipation and disillusion of travel. This quote from the artist’s statement on Platform One says it all: “The random inflation and deflation of the bags evokes the capriciousness of our transitory expectations. The green rictus grin below the platform level is a symbol of the wafer thin veneer of civilisation that prevents society from imploding.”
Mandy Long – ‘Mud Tribe’
This scatological statement by Mandy Long confronts our vicarious relationship with dirt. For many city dwellers the countryside is little more than a theme park and means of production. Each footprint was actioned by a rural artisan wearing urban fashion trainers during a house & garage performance hosted by Dr XOX.
Helmut Beuys – ‘Faith Shroud’
This is one of many pop-up ‘reliquaries’ by Helmut Beuys dotted around Hoxton over the next six weeks. The precariously clinging shroud is a metaphor for our inability to keep faith when tested, and each notch represents our self-flagellation for failing.
Nigel Judd – ‘The Pinnacle’
Nigel Judd’s totem in Threadneedle Street will be under construction for the duration of the Biennale. In his Culture Show interview, Judd neatly summed it up thus: “The Pinnacle is an uncompromising attack on the coiled inner ego of the outer id.”
Ella Creed – ‘Work No. 679’
Ella Creed continues to push the envelope on the thin red line that divides the prosaic from the extraordinary. Sponsored by Polyfilla, this bold installation consisting of 1000 sustainably sourced plywood boards asks important questions about the legitimacy of individual expression in the age of generic communications frameworks such as Facebook, Twitter, Entourage and iPhone.
Sophie Andre – ‘Enclosures’
Sophie Andre divides her time between studios in Shanghai, Los Angeles and Shoreditch. The concrete poetry on the left of the installation introduces the theme of owned and shared space. The fixed red post and moveable boards invite and inhibit us, signifying the tension between disputed emotional territories in the urban psychopathy.
Cicely Baldessari – ‘Three tickets’
The numeral 3 is a constant theme of this artist’s work. In her ‘Manifesto Tertiary’ she observes: ‘Three is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Three Tickets is a trenchant comment on the sequential terrorism of dualism.”
Dylan Emin – ‘CCTV phallus’
Dylan Emin has made a specialisation of labyrinthine explorations into Freudian theory. This is one of a series of site-specific works about castration anxiety suffered by alpha male commuters, triggered by fear of being degraded and dominated in the workplace.
Zanussi Rothko – ‘No: 56 (Beige and Pink)’
Zanussi Rothko has done more than any other artist to visualise bipolar disorder. In this piece sponsored by Platform for Art, mood swings are represented by nebulous manifestations of the bipolar spectrum. Note the assertive cross that represents the struggle to overcome the tyranny of adversity and conflict in childhood and the mother / father figures on the left.
Bert Koons – ‘Bonus Culture’
This vivid collision of glamorous fluff and freebasing squalor is a profound statement about the symbiotic relationship between hedonism and denial. Visitors are invited to climb into the frame and experience an ‘Alice through the Looking Glass’ volte face.
Reg Hirst – ‘Gum Disease’
Reg Hirst’s visceral polemics tell us much about our obsession with oral placebos as our complexes about breast-feeding. Hire the audio-guide and get a complimentary branded memory stick containing the seminal track ‘From the nipple to the bottle’ by Grace Jones.
Tony Lucas – ‘Chair Shag’
Tony Lucas’s work is as sexually provocative as ever. It reiterates just how much his surgical perception cuts deep into our subliminal consciousness. It is one of twenty works commissioned by the Hoxton Biennale on this theme. Lucas says of this exhibit: “It’s my two fingers statement to the fuck-you culture.”
Jennifer Goldsworthy – ‘Solar System’
This poignant juxtaposition of opposites attracting is loaded with a finely tuned tension. Goldsworthy is exceptionally eloquent on the subject: “Each one of us is a miniature solar system orbiting around others and our cosmic orientation is decided by the strength or weakness of our charismatic gravity.”
Jill Miro – ‘Self Portrait – London, England’
Jill Miro has created self-portraits from objet trouvé in many locations around the world. In her long awaited autobiography she explains the essence of her art. “A self portrait is actually a portrait of the viewer. I merely create empty vessels which they fill with perceptions of themselves.”