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The Shock of the Now - Issue #62

Hector Campbell - Art Historian, Writer & Curator
Hector Campbell - Art Historian, Writer & Curator
Afternoon All,
I hope you’re all well and welcome to Issue 62 of The Shock of the Now.
This week’s Featured Text is Bex Massey’s brilliant solo exhibition ‘The truth is out there’ at Roman Road’s new Notting Hill gallery space. A guaranteed nostalgia trip for any ‘90s kid, the exhibition is dense with stimulating subject matter and rammed full of references, yet each painting still manages to achieve more than the sum of its parts. Educating and entertaining in equal measure, the exhibition is accompanied by a refreshing responsive essay from writer and cultural commentator Louis Wise. 
Alongside, there are eight weekly Recommended Exhibitions and two fresh Artist Opportunities.
I hope you enjoy Issue 62, and if so do forward it along! As always any questions, comments or feedback are welcome, so feel free to get in touch.
All the best, and speak soon, H x

Featured Text: Bex Massey - 'The truth is out there' Solo Exhibition - Roman Road
Grounded by Gillian Anderson’s ever-present Special Agent Scully, and employing The X-Files as an overarching extra-terrestrial allegory for the everyday ‘otherness’ experienced by members of the LGBTQ+ community, Bex Massey‘s series of collaged canvases are intimately autobiographical and instantly engaging. Created over the course of a year, each painting is a precise patchwork of personal, historical and pop-cultural references, with educational insights into queer and art history amalgamated alongside enduring yet outdated societal stigmas and stereotypes, stills from selected X-Files episodes and hand-rendered digital detailing.
Throughout, Section 28 looms large as a spectre of that subconscious subjugation of an entire generation of British youths. The pernicious and thankfully now-repealed piece of legislature that prohibited the 'promotion of homosexuality’ by schools and local authorities was introduced by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government and remained insidiously in place until its long overdue abrogation in 2003. In ‘The truth is out there’ at Roman Road, we witness Sue Lawley startled at her Six O'Clock News desk by protestors who had breached the BBC’s broadcasting house the night before Section 28 came into effect. Elsewhere, we find a painterly portrayal of Sarah Michelle Gellar and Selma Blair’s steamy lip-locking in Cruel Intentions, nods to Heaven (the London LGBTQ+ scene’s premiere superclub) and that groundbreaking ‘Brookside Kiss’ between Beth Jordache (Anna Friel) and Margaret Clemence (Nicola Stephenson), the first female same-sex kiss to be broadcast pre-watershed and a water-cooler moment that was later re-aired as part of a moving montage at the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony. The Pink Triangle is also present, once a badge of shame used to identify gay men in Nazi concentration camps since reclaimed as a symbol of self-identity, pride and protest; as is a physical manifestation of the Kinsey scale, an evaluation introduced by American biologist and sexologist Alfred Kinsey that was the first of it’s kind to acknowledge the fluidity of sexuality, free from the dictatorial dichotomous delineations of heterosexual or homosexual.
There are thinly-veiled visual references to frequently vitriolic vernacular such as ‘Dyke’, ‘Fairy’ & ‘Camp’, and the inflammatory phrase ‘Ban This Filth!’ is emblazoned across a scenic depiction of countryside camping. That embittered battle cry of Christian conservative activist Mary Whitehouse was used to wage a decades-long campaign against social liberalism in the British media, which she famously dubbed with derision as ‘propaganda of disbelief, doubt and dirt’. In one instance, Whitehouse’s intense ire resulted in the shocking successful private prosecution of the Gay Times on the grounds of blasphemous libel, an offence belatedly abolished in 2008. Massey also addresses some archaic class clichés, especially those associated with women from the North of England, with the inclusion of Viz magazine’s infamous Fat Slags, a bottle of Lambrini and a Byker Grove screengrab of PJ, a pre-&-Dec Ant McPartlin, being blinded by a paintball (although easily mistaken as enjoying a gleefully Geordie golden shower). 
Art history is readily represented by Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus and John Gibson’s Cupid Wounding Sappho, the former widely acknowledged to have been openly homosexual during his lifetime, while the latter was known to not shy away from portrayals of same-sex passion in his sculptures. And finally, Massey inserts evidence as to her upbringing alongside the advent of the internet, amongst the first generation of truly digital natives well-versed in pop-up windows, Windows 95, pixelated icons, photoshop software and well acquainted with Microsoft Office’s arrogant animated assistant Clippy. 
Recommended Exhibitions Opening This Week:
Maria Joranko and Rebeca Romero - ‘Oracles and Algorithms’ Two-Person Exhibition - Copperfield, Southwark (10th November - 28th January, opening Wednesday 9th November, 6-8:30pm)
Copperfield presents ‘Oracles and Algorithms’, a two-person exhibition of works by Rebeca Romero and Maria Joranko.
“Both Romero and Joranko reconfigure historical objects from non-western civilisations. Their works draw attention to the artifice of knowledge-construction, specifically that of the fabrication of historical narratives by self serving empires. They infiltrate and subvert those long-held narratives, yet do not seek to repeat those mistakes by imposing a strict alternative. Rather, their artworks urge us to remain open to hearing the myriad voices and processes of knowledge-creation, and to accept the scepticism that all ‘knowledge’ may simply be a form of superstition.” - Copperfield
Matthew Krishanu - ‘Playground’ Solo Exhibition - Niru Ratnam, Soho (10th November - 14th January, opening Wednesday 9th November, 6-8pm)
Niru Ratnam presents Matthew Krishanu‘s latest solo exhibition 'Playground’.
“This new exhibition takes its title from the painting ‘Playground’, which will be presented alongside several new works by Krishanu that further explore the artist’s upbringing and issues around childhood and colonialism that are regular touchpoints of his work.” - Niru Ratnam
‘ALL NIGHT’ Group Exhibition - Sherbet Green, Cambridge Heath (11th November - 9th December, opening Thursday 10th November, 6-9pm)
Sherbet Green presents ‘ALL NIGHT’, a group exhibition featuring Louis Blue Newby, Eloise Hawser, and Mimi Hope & Ben Galyas.
“ALL NIGHT; dance music, sexuality and industrial waste. The mechanisms of information distribution continue to warp and accelerate. Newby, Hawser, Hope, and Galyas look to draw connections between cultural artefacts in relation to this immutable change. Pornography, rave fliers, and newspapers are stacked, smothered, and soaked. Taken out of circulation, the uncertain and unstable surfaces of these works solidify the ephemeral nature of the printed image. Such production confronts the very meaning and direction of the source material. Often distributed and discarded en masse, their lustre fading as night turns to day, these images meet their disfigurement and ultimate demise in the liminal spaces of the city.” - Sherbet Green
Martyn Cross - ‘O happiness! happiness!’ Solo Exhibition - Hales, Shoreditch (11th November - 17th December, opening Thursday 10th November, 6-8pm)
Hales presents Martyn Cross‘ solo exhibition 'O happiness! happiness!’, featuring new paintings that muse on Gustav Flaubert’s seminal book ‘The Temptation of St Anthony’.
“Cross is primarily a painter engaged with ‘world making.’ The act of painting for him is a means to explore the inner life and strangeness of the ordinary. Each work begins in reality, with recognizable limbs and elements of landscape, which transform into uncanny scenes. Biomorphic landscapes speak to mythologies, but in Cross’s paintings the narratives are knowingly ambiguous. Familiar and mysterious, quiet and epic, scale and irregularity in proportion puzzles the viewer. ” - Hales
Jordan Derrien - ‘Bushels of Goodness and Warmth’ Solo Exhibition & Guendalina Cerruti - ‘Ohh… Youth!’ Solo Exhibition - V.O Curations, Mayfair (11th November - 17th December, opening Thursday 10th November, 6-8pm)
V.O Curations presents Jordan Derrien‘s debut UK solo exhibition 'Bushels of Goodness and Warmth’ & Guendalina Cerruti’s latest solo exhibition ‘Ohh… Youth!’ (above).
“Developed during his residency at V.O Curations, Jordan Derrien presents a new body of work, which continues his experimentation with material, form and texture. Derrien’s starting point for the project was the 1957 novel La Jalousie (Jealousy) by French writer and filmmaker Alain Robbe-Grillet.” - V.O Curations
“For her second solo show in London, Italian artist Guendalina Cerruti presents a series of new paintings and a large-scale site-specific installation made of metal grids and colourful beads. The artist uses the visual language of pop culture, teenage aesthetics and personal narratives to further explore our deeply intertwined relationship with consumption and consumerism.” - V.O Curations
Ayo Akingbade - ‘Show Me The World Mister’ Solo Exhibition - Chisenhale, Bow (10th November - 5th February, opening Thursday 10th November, 6:30-8:45pm)
Chisenhale presents ‘Show Me The World Mister’, a new commission by artist Ayo Akingbade.
“Show Me The World Mister is a solo exhibition comprising two new films by London-based artist Ayo Akingbade. Shot on location in Nigeria, The Fist and Faluyi are Akingbade’s most ambitious productions to date, building upon her continued interest in history, place-making, legacy and power.” - Chisenhale
Maggie Menghan Chen - ‘unearthed’ Solo Exhibition - Danuser & Ramirez, Deptford (11th - 21st November, opening Friday 11th November, 6-9pm)
Danuser & Ramirez present ‘unearthed’, Maggie Menghan Chen’s debut solo exhibition.
“Unearthed, Beijing-born artist Maggie Menghan Chen’s first solo exhibition in the UK, restores an array of discovered relics and explores how historical narratives are made from sparse evidence with her new sculpture and print works.” - Danuser & Ramirez
Maggie Dunlap & Allan Gardner - ‘Fantasy Lands’ Two-Person Exhibition - Collective Ending HQ, Deptford (13th November - 4th December, opening Saturday 12th December, 5-10pm)
Collective Ending presents ‘Fantasy Lands’, a two-person exhibition of works by Maggie Dunlap & Allan Gardner (above), organised by Charlie Mills.
“Presenting an austere landscape filled with mischief and menace, Fantasy Lands brings together two artists that challenge the relationship between image, perception and the politics of fear in contemporary culture. Featuring a new body of monochromatic paintings by Leeds-based artist and writer Allan Gardner alongside a series of grave and unapologetic steel sculptures by American conceptual artist Maggie Dunlap, prepare to straddle the fine line between curiosity and paranoia.” - Collective Ending HQ
Artist Opportunities:
Chisenhale Studios are now inviting applications for Into the Wild 2023 – a free, alternative, artist development programme for recent BA graduates and those at a similar stage in their creative practice. Into the Wild is led by and designed for artists with first-hand experience of the inequalities that exist within the art world. Artists who seek to create supportive communities, who work towards making art more equitable and accessible, and who want to build different kinds of art worlds as a result. This programme is for early-career artists that connect with or relate to these experiences and aims.
Open Call for UKNA’s 6th Weekender Residency, Friday 27 to Sunday 29 January 2023, generously supported by 4C Group and Canopy By Hilton London City hotel. The Weekender is an opportunity to take some time, meet other artists, collaborate and replenish thinking and possible directions for your practice. The Weekender is curated by Rosalind Davis; artist-curator and a graduate of The Royal College of Art (2005) and Chelsea College of Art (2003).
Staffordshire St are looking for proposals from curators, artists, makers, designers, and performers to exhibit in our project space as part of their supported programme of events. Staffordshire St want to support people at all stages of their career and will select proposals from this Open Call to deliver three-week projects or 4-day events in their gallery space alongside the rest of their programme in 2023.
Aldea, Center for Contemporary Art, Design and Technology (Norway) and Curatron are offering two residencies in 2023 (February 2nd to March 17th, March 16th to April 29th), each followed by a group exhibition in the Aldea gallery. Aldea is an institution that aims to foster the creative ambitions of their open community. Professional grade workshops (metal, wood, digital fabrication), gallery, working studios, residency programs and online cultural management systems are all part of their broad set of resources. Each artist will receive living expenses, travel expenses and a production fee.
The Bagri Foundation provides support, in the form of grants, towards artistic and educational projects. Areas of interest: Promotion of arts and culture of all Asia and the diasporas; Supporting established and mid-career level artists; Partnerships that explore global topics in creative ways; Courses, lectures, research projects, exhibitions and symposiums that cover a wide range of topics from Asia. London is Their prime city for showcasing talent. International projects and those in other parts of the UK are considered occasionally. Grants range from £5,000 – £150,000 and are awarded in two rounds per year.
Founded by artist Anna Woodward, collector Sam Senchal and property expert Scott Franklin, Good Eye Projects will host six artists per residency at their studio spaces in Hammersmith. There are currently two residency periods scheduled, including Spring (6th February - 7th May) and Summer (15th May -20th). Each residency will culminate in a group exhibition. To apply, send a c. 250-word artist statement; 5 JPEG images of artworks that best represent your practice; a c. 100-word statement on how the residency will benefit you, how you plan to use it and how many days per week you’ll be able to use the studio; and relevant links to your website/Instagram to
Spike Island is pleased to invite applications from artists based in the South West of England to develop a new digital commission for our website and/or online channels. This opportunity is part of the West of England Visual Arts Alliance (WEVAA), supported by Arts Council England.
The successful applicant will receive: A £2,000 budget to produce a new digital commission for Spike Island’s website and/or online channels; An artist’s fee of £2,000; Significant promotion via Spike Island’s website and online channels before and during the launch of the commission in autumn 2023.; Annual membership to Spike Island Associates programme, which offers free access to regular talks, one-to-ones with artists, critics and curators, and other opportunities for peer-to-peer learning and support; Support from Spike Island’s Programme team to develop and present the commission.
Unit 1 Gallery | Workshop is renowned for its solo residency programme and the gallery has decided to expand and provide exhibition opportunities. Apply now for your chance to host a 3-week exhibition in their west London gallery. The winning proposal will be supported with a private view, networking, live Instagram participation in our Conversation Continues series and the participating artists will also be given a complimentary years subscription to the Fair Art Fair App.
Session I – Curators (Exhibition: 3rd-25th February), Session II – Artist Group (Exhibition: 3rd March -25th March), Session III – Solo (Exhibition: 31st March-22nd April)
FIELDNOTES is inviting submissions for its fifth issue. They are seeking non-conforming submissions: ideas in transition, poetry in translation, collaborations and conversations, works between genres, between fiction and theory, between text and image, new poetic modes and things-in-progress. Contributors selected from the Open Call will be paid a fee (between £100-£200) for original content not published elsewhere (online or in print).
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Hector Campbell - Art Historian, Writer & Curator
Hector Campbell - Art Historian, Writer & Curator

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