Follow Us on Twitter

The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities opens on November 7, 2014

A MUSEUM of rare and priceless marvels of the natural and scientific worlds, from Dodo Bones to specula, to the intriguing beauty of McDonald’s Happy Meal Toys; from old master etchings to mad women’s doodles; from two-headed kittens to living coral …

Viktor Wynd launched his Little Shop of Horrors onto an at once expectant and grateful public in 2009. Hovering halfway between theatre and sculpture, shop and museum, academic institution and art gallery, it is, like its founder, both an installation and a performance.

The Shop was just one of many elements of Wynd’s remarkable social sculpture, The Last Tuesday Society, an organisation that currently boasts some 18,000 members, sells over 13,000 tickets a year to a veritable feast of experiences and productions – events that range from evenings of loss to literary salons and masked balls – and has over 3,000 daily visitors to its website.

Now the Shop is being converted into The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & Natural History, a unique Wunderkabinett that, as Wynd himself remarks, will offer a mirror to a world so suffused with miracles and beauty that any attempt at categorization is bound to fail.

The Museum will be divided into two parts: the Upper Galleries, with up to two art exhibitions a year, and the double-vaulted basement Wunderkabinett, displaying the permanent collection in custom-built and salvaged museum and jewellery cases.

For the opening, Wynd is inviting a number of high profile and completely unknown contemporary artists to subvert the permanent collection, responding to the notion of The Infected Museum, while upstairs a selection of work from the permanent collection, together with loans from private collections, will highlight the English Surrealists and Crypto-Surrealists, from Leonora Carrington to Austin Osman Spare.

A packed schedule of talks and demonstrations, ranging from aquarium husbandry to taxidermy, will allow visitors to plunge deeper into the world of curiosity, whilst sipping cocktails and nibbling snacks prepared by the museum café and bar. The events programme will be co-curated by Viktor Wynd, Mark Pilkington and Amber Butchart.

For the more adventurous, The Lion Room – tucked deep in the bowels of the lower galleries – is available for private hire for dinners and intimate encounters for up to ten people. Seated on deep velvet banquettes, guests will dine off a sarcophagus holding a 19th century human skeleton, surrounded by erotica and overlooked by a caged lion skeleton and a disturbingly powerful Mervyn Peake painting.

Viktor Wynd’s Cabinet of Wonders is published by Prestel to coincide with the Museum Opening. The book takes readers on a tour of homes, private collections and museums that share Wynd’s fondness for things arcane, desiccated, antique or just plain odd.

Opening Times: Wednesday to Friday, noon to 10.30pm; Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 10.30pm.

The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & Natural History, 11 Mare Street, Hackney, E8 4RP

London is the Place for Me 2014

Event preview

RENAISSANCE One and Tilt with Carnival Village and Partners are presenting London is the Place for Me 2014 at The Tabernacle, London, W11, on October 25 and 26.

Curated by Melanie Abrahams, Ray Funk and Alexander D Great, the second weekend festival of literature, music and limin’ returns to celebrate the vibrancy of the Caribbean and its love affair with London.

Showcasing the vibrant cultural exchange between London and the Caribbean and London as a global city, London is the Place for Me will feature more than 20 intergenerational artists, raconteurs and movers and shakers in a melting pot of liming, music, film, family workshops, debate and food and drink.

Held within a glorious carnival atmosphere, performers from Trinidad and Tobago, to Jamaica, Grenada, Guyana and Barbados will come together to celebrate the liveliness, uniqueness and cultural diversity of the Caribbean.

Performances, events and workshops will cover the themes of calypso, pan, film, carnival, cricket, Lord Kitchener with a strong focus on London as the place many have come to live, settle in and call home.

Jamaica’s current Poet Laureate, Mervyn Morris, will present a talk about legendary poet, folklorist and arts pioneer Miss Lou (Louise Bennett). The Rum Shop Lime stage in the foyer will feature performances and talks by poets, novelists and calypsonians and there will be food and plenty limin’.

Spoken word meets carnival for one of the main events, London Liming, which features a stellar line-up of calypsonians, poets, and raconteurs who are inspired by home, diaspora and personal stories. The event features live performances by Women of Steel, John Agard (winner of the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, 2013), Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze, Tobago Crusoe, Abdul Malik, Anthony Joseph, Monique Roffey, Alexander D Great, Malika Booker, Jamie Renton and more.

Full festival timings can be found at

Melanie Abrahams, founder of Tilt and Renaissance One, who co-curated the programme, said: “London is the Place for Me is for everyone from the curious, to the frequent travellers, to those who imagine and create through delving into their history, memories and imaginations such as the artists you’ll experience during the weekend.

“The Caribbean was always the ‘new world’ well before the phrase was coined, due to its mix of races, cultures, foods and geography. You’ll find such variety at the festival through fantastic line-ups of writers and wordsmiths, steelpan, calypsonians, raconteurs and a Rum Shop Lime stage offering live performances. London-born and of Trinidadian and Jamaican heritage, I feel just as Caribbean as I do a Londoner. London is still the place for me.”

In 2012, Renaissance One produced the first London Is The Place For Me festival, which ran for two weeks at the Tricycle Theatre as part of the Trinidad and Tobago Cultural Village and was a cultural companion to the Olympics.

The two week programme involved more than 50 movers and shakers of T&T origin presenting family friendly events, classical concerts, a Liming party, a staging of Three Sisters by Mustapha Matura, international visits to London by writer Earl Lovelace, storyteller Paul Keens-Douglas, writer and performer Eintou Springer, storyteller Ava Hutchinson, actor Brian Green and visual artist Che Lovelace, as well as a film and talks programme.

Tickets: Early bird weekend ticket £15 (until October 5); Weekend ticket £20; Day ticket: £12.50; £1 off for residents. Each ticket permits two children under 12 when accompanied by an adult. Available on 0207 221 9700 or online at

Times: From noon (doors at 11.30am) until 10.30pm on Saturday and 9.30pm on Sunday.

The Tabernacle, Powis Square, London, W11 2AY

Ed Gray at GX Gallery

Ed Gray - Adoration at the Lions' Den: Millwall Matchday

Exhibition preview

AN EXHIBITION of work by London artist Ed Gray, Londonessence: Adoration is on display at the GX Gallery from October 10 to October 26, 2014. The gallery will also be launching Ed Gray’s new book featuring his work from 2008 -2012.

This beautifully made, 130 page book, reveals Gray’s approach to painting city dwellers and city life in the world’s most awe inspiring metropolises. From London to New York, via Mexico City, Tokyo, Bangkok, and Cape Town. The accompanying exhibition will showcase some of the works featured in the book.

London artist Ed Gray graduated from a Fine Art degree in 1995, trained to be a school teacher and taught art and design at a South London secondary school for four years. As a result of his work becoming commercially successful, Gray left his teaching career and has worked as a professional artist ever since.

Primarily a painter of London, his birthplace, and inspired by artists such as Hogarth and Breughel and the Tintin cartoons of Herge that he loved as a boy, Gray has previously worked in New York, Mexico and Tokyo to depict life in these cities.

‘I go out drawing in the streets to find characters to paint. These are real people, real moments in time, depicting the ebb and flow of city life. I aim to celebrate and commemorate these people; to leave a trace of these lives lived with my pen, my charcoal and my paintbrush’.

Increasingly recognised as one of the great contemporary painters of London and Londoners, Gray’s work explores the modern city in all its guises. Walking city streets with sketchbook and pencil in hand, Gray takes his inspiration from the real life he encounters. Back in the studio, each piece realised celebrates the day to day struggles, ambitions and aspirations that the urban environment provokes in the lives of Londoners, from the everyman and woman to familiar faces on the London scene. There is something for everyone in Gray’s work.

GX Gallery, 43 Denmark Hill, London, SE5 8RS

Tel: +(0) 20 7703 8396

Agathe Sorel - Studio of Contemporary Art

Work by Agathe Sorel

Exhibition preview

SANDRA Higgins, in collaboration with Bolans Architecture, is presenting the first London retrospective of the avant-garde artist Agathe Sorel, on display at the Studio of Contemporary Art from October 12 to November 12, 2014.

Born in Hungary in 1935, Sorel fled the country after the anti-Soviet revolution and settled in England. In 1956, she enrolled at the Camberwell School of Art and later won the Gulbenkian scholarship to study printmaking with S.W. Hayter at the Atelier 17 in Paris.

Hayter collaborated with some of the most important artists of the 20th Century – including Marc Chagall, Max Ernst, Alberto Giacometti, Juan Miro and Jackson Pollock– and his mentoring and influence was crucial in the development of Sorel’s artistic career.

After winning a fellowship in 1966 to travel to Mexico and the United States, Sorel became interested in the possibilities of working with transparent materials, following on experiments by Naum Gabo and Lászlo Moholy-Nagy. The use of Perspex allowed her to combine the properties of line engraving with three dimensional form.

Since then, Sorel has tirelessly and inventively explored this medium, creating a large body of sculptures of various sizes – which she named “space engravings”– that replace sculptural mass with transparent open volumes and whose translucency absorbs and reflects natural light like yet another material.

Sandra Higgins has curated a retrospective that will encompass the 50-year body of work of Agatha Sorel, focusing on her prints, paintings and sculptures and teasing out the affinities between these media and their stylistic evolution.

The exhibition will take place in Sorel’s studio in Forest Hill, offering visitors the unique opportunity to enjoy Sorel’s works in the space where she created many of them.

Studio of Contemporary Art, Dorrell Hall, 43 London Road, SE23 3TY

Bob Gruen: Rock Seen

Photo by Bob Gruen

Exhibition preview

BOB Gruen, the legendary US photographer who made his name documenting the New York music scene of the late 1970s, is set to show a large and definitive exhibition of his work at London’s Londonewcastle Project Space.

Entitled Rock Seen, the exhibition includes previously unseen images and footage of Mick Jagger, Johnny Rotten, Alice Cooper and Salvador Dali, among many others, and is on display from October 5 to October 27, 2014.

Rock Seen is a major exhibition of the rock stars that hung around CBGB and Max’s Kansas City in the 1970’s from Debbie Harry to David Bowie.

From being John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s personal photographer to accompanying the Sex Pistols on their ill-fated American tour, to befriending Andy Warhol, Bob Gruen was an essential part of the crowd, as well as one of its most important documenters.

The exhibition also includes unseen documentaries, an installation of a teenager’s bedroom in New York in 1978, a stage for impromptu performances – including one-off sessions of famous bands – and an evening of poets each of whom will read a poem inspired by one of the pictures.

Rock Seen is part of the LDNY Festival and is curated by Stephen Colegrave, author of Inside Music and co-author of Punk.

For forty years, Bob Gruen has been documenting the rock scene, capturing now iconic images of The Clash, The Sex Pistols, Led Zeppelin, New York Dolls, Blondie, The Ramones, and John Lennon and Yoko Ono among others and continues to work today with current acts Green Day and the Strypes. Gruen says of his career, “Photography has led me to some great experiences and enduring relationships. Blurring the line between work and play, many of the people I met through my work have become friends; some are like family to me.”

Bob Gruen’s career began in 1965, when he shot his first concert photos at the Newport Folk Festival. “I was still a kid and a big Bob Dylan fan.” Gruen recalls, “I talked my way into getting a photo pass so I could be down front. That was when Dylan played electric guitar and claimed rock ‘n’ roll was American folk music and got booed off stage for it. After that I began taking photos a lot.” (Bob Gruen, Interview with Carlo McCormick, The New York Trash).

While shooting freelance work and photo stories for the underground rock magazine, Rock Scene Gruen photographed local New York City bands “on stage, off stage, at home, at parties, and during time off”.

“Many photos I was taking then weren’t used until years later; they weren’t considered to be news at the times, but now they are ‘history’”, Gruen says of his early photographs which document the very beginnings of what would later become a monumental rock scene at the now infamous New York City clubs CBGB and Max’s Kansas City where bands such as the Ramones and Blondie got their start.

Many of Bob Gruen’s iconic photographs began with unassuming introductions that became the catalyst for honest and enduring friendships. A hurried introduction to Ike and Tina Turner outside a concert began a friendship that resulted in Gruen’s first album cover, and later Gruen’s first concert tour. In 1972, Gruen met John Lennon and Yoko Ono at a benefit concert, and later dropped some prints at their nearby apartment. This simple gesture began a close friendship between Bob Gruen, John Lennon, and Yoko Ono.

Throughout the 1970’s Gruen worked as their personal photographer, documenting concerts and press conferences, as well as capturing serene moments between John and Yoko, and the first images of their son, Sean Lennon. In 1974, Gruen suggested photographing John Lennon on top of his New York apartment building, which would later become the hugely iconic image of John Lennon wearing the New York City T-Shirt.

Bob Gruen lives and works in New York City.

Opening hours: Daily from 11am to 8pm.

Londonewcastle Project Space, 28 Redchurch Street, Shoreditch, E2 7DP

Witches and Wicked Bodies - British Museum

The Siren Vase, Pottery: red - figured stamnos. The ship of Odysseus passing the Sirens. C. 480BC - 470BC. Attributed to The Siren Painter. Greece © The Trustees of the British Museum.

Exhibition preview

AN EXHIBITION entitled Witches and Wicked Bodies is on display at the British Museum (Room 90) until January 11, 2015.

The power of the witch has always gripped the artistic imagination. This is the first exhibition at the British Museum to present a survey of the subject in this rich and innovative exploration of the representation of the witch and malevolent female figures in the graphic arts.

Spanning from the 1400s through to the end of the Victorian age, Witches and Wicked Bodies delves into the origins of the traditional image of the witch and how this developed as artists fed off public attitudes and current events.

Prints and drawings are shown alongside additional objects that illustrate that the imagery of sorcery and magic extends back to antiquity. Some examples of Greek vases and oil flasks with paintings of sirens, harpies and the famous classical sorceresses, Circe and Medea, are included to emphasise this link.

Efforts to understand and interpret seemingly malevolent deeds – as well apportion blame for them and elicit confessions through hideous acts of torture – have had a place in society since classical antiquity and Biblical times. Men, women and children have all been accused of sorcery.

The magus, or wise practitioner of ‘natural magic’ or occult ‘sciences’, has traditionally been male, but the majority of those accused and punished for witchcraft, especially since the Reformation, have been women. They are shown as monstrous hags with devil-worshipping followers. They represent an inversion of a well-ordered society and the natural world.

While historical broadsides document the long and cruel history of witch persecution in Europe, advances in print technology created a burst of disturbing imagery and literature from about 1500. Witch trials intensified during periods of social unrest and religious conflicts in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries when Protestants and Catholics alike were preoccupied with religious heresy.

Striking single-sheet prints were first made by the Renaissance printmakers Albrecht Dürer (1471 – 1528) and Hans Baldung Grien (c.1484 – 1545) and rapidly became a niche market for collectors.

The Witches’ Sabbath by Hans Baldung Grien is a colour woodcut print from 1510 that depicts four nude female figures sitting on the ground with a cauldron. The cauldron is emitting big plumes of smoke. There are traces of a potion with frogs round the figures, the ground is littered with bones and pitchforks and to the right of the image a cat is sitting with its back turned. In the night sky, there are two more witches, one barely visible, the other riding a goat and carrying a pitchfork with another cauldron and animal bones.

The figure of a witch riding backwards on a goat in Baldung’s work is said to have been inspired by Dürer’s engraving of the very same name. Made in about 1500, A witch riding backwards on a goat depicts how witchcraft was thought to reverse the natural order of things, so the hair of the witch streams out in one direction, while the goat and the trail of drapery indicate the opposite direction.

Witches were also shown as bewitching seductresses intent on ensnaring their male victims, seen in the wonderful etching by Giovanni Battista Castiglione of Circe, who turned Odysseus’ companions into beasts. By contrast, Francisco de Goya (1746-1848) turned the subject of witches into an art form all of its own, whereby grotesque women conducting hideous activities on animals and children were represented in strikingly beautiful aquatint etchings. Goya used them as a way of satirising divisive social, political and religious issues of his day.

During the eighteenth century, Henry Fuseli’s (1741 – 1825) Weird Sisters from Macbeth influenced generations of theatre-goers, and illustrations of Goethe’s Faust were popularised by Eugène Delacroix (1798 – 1863). By the end of the 19th century, hideous old hags with distended breasts and snakes for hair were mostly replaced by sexualised and mysteriously exotic sirens, seen in the exhibition in the work of Edward Burne-Jones (1833 – 1898), Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828 – 1882) and Odilon Redon (1840 – 1916).

The exhibition at the British Museum has been co-curated by the artist and writer, Deanna Petherbridge, and adapted from her book Witches and Wicked Bodies which was first published in 2013 to accompany a display at the National Galleries in Edinburgh. Works from the British Museum collections are supported by loans from the V&A, Ashmolean, Tate Britain and the British Library.

The display shows a dramatic range of imagery that is seldom viewed except by historians or collectors, and it draws attention to the longevity of the iconography associated with witchcraft as a predominantly female manifestation, depicted either as vicious perpetrators, or forlorn victims of Church and State. The power of such images continue to intrigue and fascinate us today.

Admission: Free.

Opening hours: Saturday to Thursday, 10am to 5.30pm; Fridays, 10am to 8.30pm.


Evil hags and mothers: women and witchcraft in Germany on Friday, October 3 from 6.30pm to 7.30pm in the BP Lecture Theatre. Tickets: £5, Members/concessions £3.

Lyndal Roper, Regius Professor of History, University of Oxford, talks about the witchcraft trials of 16th- and 17th-century Germany and asks why witches were so often older women. Many accusations began in the period of six weeks after a baby was born, a period when the mother could not leave the house and was believed to be under the power of the Devil. If a baby failed to thrive, then the new mother might blame the lying-in maid, frequently an older woman. Fears about women’s bodies, and envy and jealousy between women form part of the background of the figure of the witch.

The Weird Sisters with RIFT theatre company on Friday, October 10 from 6.30pm to 8pm in Room 90. Free but booking is essential.

BM/PM takes place every second Friday of the month. Relax at the bar with friends and catch performances that take a fresh look at the Museum’s collection. Spend an evening in the exhibition Witches and Wicked Bodies with a drink, and join theatre company RIFT for an evening of tricks, tales and supernatural talismans. Following their sell-out overnight run of Shakespeare’s Macbeth over the summer, RIFT explore Shakespeare’s most interpretable and intriguing characters – the weird sisters.

Witches and Wicked Bodies on Friday, October 31 from 1.15pm to 2pm in Room 90. Free, just drop in.

A gallery talk by Exhibition Curator Deanna Petherbridge.

Image: The Siren Vase, Pottery: red-figured stamnos. The ship of Odysseus passing the Sirens. C. 480BC – 470BC. Attributed to The Siren Painter. Greece. © The Trustees of the British Museum.

British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG


Amy Winehouse: When I Walk In Your Shoes

K-Guy, Amy

Exhibition preview

AMY Winehouse: When I Walk In Your Shoes, a contemporary art exhibition in aid of the Amy Winehouse Foundation curated by Amy’s friend and noted London tattoo artist Henry Hate, will be on display at the Westbank Gallery in Notting Hill from September 26 to October 1, 2014.

The Westbank Gallery will host 2000 sq ft of artwork from an array of exciting creatives, including Dita Von Teese, Scroobius Pip, Pure Evil and Dan Gold.

In celebration of Amy Winehouse’s work, life and legacy, the pieces are in different media ranging from 2D art to customised sneakers (trainers) supplied by sponsor, Converse.

Many exhibition pieces are available to buy, and proceeds raised from sales will go to the Amy Winehouse Foundation, a charity set up in Amy’s name, working to prevent the effects of drug and alcohol misuse on young people.

Other artists include: Adrian + Shane, Ben Allen, DnA, Factory, Henry Hate, Jason Atomic, K-Guy, Kate Gibb, Oily Bloke, ORDU, Pegasus, Penny, Segan Friend and The Thomas Brothers.

Artists have submitted up to three pieces each:

• A plinth or wall display piece incorporating a pair of Converse Chuck Taylor All Star.

• An Amy-inspired piece based on her music, likeness, and musical infuence.

• A piece of original art that compliments the exhibition and its theme.

Opening Times: 11am – 7pm.

Westbank Gallery, 133-137 Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill, London, W11 2RS

Food Through the Ages - The Geffrye Museum‏

The Geffrye Museum

Event preview

FOOD Through the Ages, a special evening combining historical food and interiors devised in partnership with Funthyme Dining and Events, will take place at The Geffrye Museum‏ on Thursday, October 16, 2014 between 7pm and 10pm.

Guests will step back in time to experience how previous generations dined set against the atmospheric backdrop of the museum.

After exploring the period rooms from 1600 to the present day, guests will be served up a feast spanning the centuries. The menu will feature an historical drink on arrival, canapés and a three-course meal.

Highlights include Fried Quail Egg and Bacon on Toast from the 16th century, and ‘Salmagundi’ – an exotic 17th-century salad of carved beetroot, cold chicken, anchovies, eggs, pearl onions, green beans, grapes, leaves and flowers.

Kate Colquhoun, food historian and author of Taste – The Story of Britain through its Cooking will introduce each course with intriguing stories and fascinating snippets.

Food Through the Ages is part of a year-long programme of special events to mark the centenary of the museum and the tri-centenary of its almshouse buildings.

Tickets: £50. Advance booking is essential: by phone on 020 7749 6024, by e-mailing, or online at Guests are asked to BYOB to accompany the meal.

Set in elegant 18th century buildings surrounded by gardens in Shoreditch, East London, The Geffrye Museum explores the home from 1600 to the present day, focusing on the living rooms of the urban middle classes in England, particularly London. A series of period rooms and gardens show how such homes have been used and furnished over time, reflecting changes in society and patterns of behavior, as well as style, fashion and taste.

Funthyme Dining & Events is a young and innovative food company specialising in conceptual events and private catering. Funthyme has worked with leading brands such as Diesel, Grazia and Red Bull on bespoke events and parties. It hosts and co-hosts a number of concept dining events and supperclubs such as Storythyme, Funthyme @ The Farm, The Unearthed Supperclub and The School of Life’s Utopian Feasts.

The Geffrye Museum, ‏ 136 Kingsland Road, Shoreditch, London, E2 8EA


Gordon Shrigley: Heaven’s Gate - IMT Gallery

Genova, Via Dante, Primo Grattacielo.

Exhibition preview

HEAVEN’S Gate, an exhibition of new work by the artist Gordon Shrigley, will be on display at the IMT Gallery from October 17 to November 15, 2014.

I’ve watched the stars fall silent on a series of chalked black monoliths, at once transient and solid, the notion of all, of origins, and of how language has enabled us to think. Minimalistic and repetitive constructions, they evoke discipline and labour, line as a death machine, the last drawing before it is recycled, refurbished, started over. Shrigley is looking for answers from beyond the horizon.

Shrigley makes the last drawing thinking about whatever the post-human condition will be, what form of consciousness lies beyond thinking as distinction.

There is an embracing of fatalism here or, in his own words, “this is drawing, from beginning to end, […] a kind of tortured, messianic Zilch,” and is the continuation of a series buried earlier this year in a time capsule by the Eddie the Eagle Museum, Amsterdam.

He knows that it is only while we are in these bodies that we can learn the lessons needed to complete our own individual transition.

Gordon Shrigley (b.1964, Wiltshire, UK) studied at Bournville College of Art, Birmingham; the University of Westminster and the Slade School of Fine Art, London. He has exhibited in the UK and abroad including Fruehsorge Contemporary Drawings, Berlin; the Centre for Contemporary Art, Sacramento; the Musée dʼart Moderne, Saint-Etienne and the Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart.

He was selected for an artist’s residency at the Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart in 1998 and at Hospitalfield House, Arbroath in 2000. His work can be found in the Staatsgalerie Drawing and Print Collection, Stuttgart; Academy Schloss Solitude Archive Collection, Stuttgart; Musée dʼart Moderne, Saint-Etienne and the Ludwigsburg State Archives, Germany.

Admission: Free.

Times: Thursday to Sunday, 12 – 6pm or by appointment.

IMT Gallery, Unit 2/210 Cambridge Heath Road, London, E2 9NQ UK

Crazy about their bodies - CGP London Cafe Gallery

Exhibition preview

CGP London has announced a new exhibition by Sharon Kivland. Entitled Folles de leur corps/Crazy about their bodies, it will be on display from October 8 to November 9, 2014.

The exhibition, which considers the relation between women and their bodies, will include a library, with an occasional librarian, and one-off events: a screening of the full-lenth version of Peter Watkins’ film La Commune (Paris, 1871), and an agit-disco with Stefan Szczelkun and Howard Slater.

Kivland’s work investigates how our lives are governed by systems of order that complement, overlap and contradict one another while undergoing periods of change.

Apart from her activities as an artist, writer and curator, Kivland also engages in theoretical investigations, both teaching as Reader in Fine Art at Sheffield Hallam University and as a Research Associate of the Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research in London.

She has described her practice as one of stupid refinement, trapped in archives, libraries, the arcades, and the intersection of public political action and private subjectivity.

In a footnote in Capital, chapter 2: The Process of Exchange, Karl Marx writes: ‘In the twelfth century […], very delicate things often appear among these commodities. Thus a French poet [Guillot de Paris] of the period enumerates among the commodities to be found in the fair of Lendit, alongside clothing, shoes, leather, implements of cultivation, skins, etc., also “femmes folles de leur corps”.’

The English translator translates this as ‘wanton women’; Kivland would rather translate it as ‘women crazy about their bodies’, as she arranges and rearranges old and new works, addressing moments of revolution/social change. Staged as tableaux, there is a presentation of material forms in which politics and aesthetics are entwined – and lived – in the intersection of public political action and private subjectivity.

Defying chronology, the works trace feminine representation: the ‘liberated’ women of 1968, Laclos’ pre-revolutionary notion of ‘la femmenaturelle’, Toussenel’s consideration of woman as mediator between man and animal, Proust’s evocation of Odette’s costume as architecture. Feminism, psychoanalysis, politics, literature (yes, all of that), and irony as a rhetorical trope inform works that explore connections between 1784, 1848, 1871, 1968, and the explosions of class struggle, often read in fashion’s detail.

The exhibition opens with the five short texts of Le Lever, torn from an auction catalogue description of an engraving after a painting by Pierre-Antoine Baudouin, the son-in-law of Boucher, who, like his father-in-law, depicted the voluptuous eroticism of the ancien régime, transformed into chapters. The servant girl kneels before her mistress, holding her satin mule. Stuffed animals (aristocratic greedy squirrels who take everything for themselves, a mob of stoats, sporting Phrygian bonnets, cunning radical foxes who have read Marx) proliferate.

In La Forme-valeur, Marx’s Capital is read, chapter three on exchange-value, in an attempt to find a woman speaking, yet all found is an object speaking in the charming voice of a commodity in the chorus of goods going to market. Scent bottles (Allure) might become Molotov cocktails, the material that may be soaked and ignited is French wedding tulle, which is rather expensive.

The repetitive (and as the artist is the first to admit, dull and amateur) films of Mes coquetteries follow silkclad bodies while a voiceover recalls the radio transmissions of the Resistance and from the Underworld via the car radio of Cocteau’s film Orphée.

In Encore un effort a banner carries the breathless descriptions of the new fashions for 1968, when anything goes and details place the accent on this or that part of the body and its adornment: a pair of shoes that have come off in a struggle, for example, the heel of one snapped off; a checked shirt, with two buttons undone; a light-coloured trench coat (perfect for a May day); a blouson-style jacket that allows easy freedom of movement; pale casual slacks worn with an ankle boot.

Beauty is in the streets as fashion becomes democratic (or so say the houses of haute couture), while the philosopher of the boudoir extorts us once again to take action.

Times: Wednesday to Sunday from 11am to 4pm.

Cafe Gallery, Southwark Park, Bermondsey, London, SE16 2UA


Tel: +44 (0) 20 7237 1230