‘SUCKERZ’ is the coming together of two British artists Emma Hart and Jonathan Baldock, and what ensues is a visual parade of all things saucy and a little bit vulgar. Currently on display at l’étrangère, but with only a week left to see, I strongly encourage those excited by the idea of plates with nipples, tongue-like napkin rings, and spaghetti ponytails to get yourself over there.
Stepping into the space there awaits a banqueting table, adorned with a plethora of lolling tongues, opened mouths and yes, nipples. This carnivalesque feast instantly conjured up a feeling of curiosity and disgust, to delve in more, but where should I look? (Maybe Alice felt the same when she came to dine with the Mad Hatter.)
Hart and Baldock fixate their practises’ on the body; its ins and outs, and all the unavoidable associations. The title itself is reference to passageways, to enter and to exit. Indeed, with cherries and wrapped sweets as part of the table décor, the hints of the sexualisation are routinely apparent. Although, I do question whether the notion of passageways extends beyond the overtly sexual. Instead, the artists are attempting to probe the assumed etiquette of an exhibition space, to sully our gaze. The consequence is a palpable tension between the disordered, situated within a realm of order, which instigates within the viewer oscillating points of repulsion and attraction. This is a retained rebellion that is slipping, spurting, sliding over the edge.
Thus, the notion of the grotesque is at the heart of the exhibition. In ceramic and textile form, the artists exaggerate the physicality and viscosity of bodily functions to generate a feeling of decadence. When I say feast, our eyes are not the only sense being tantalised. Hart and Baldock dot real-life foodstuffs (Ferrero Rochers) and representations of yummy things like donuts to leave the viewer salivating. Then once again, I think about processes like digestion and expulsion, and almost immediately, my stomach has turned. Altogether, interrupting the atmosphere of indulgence, but I suppose that is just reality for you.
Amongst the fleshy pinks, hair-scrunchies, shell-encrusted busts, forks with hands and potatoes. It is easy to get lost. However, the one thing I want to emphasise is the overwhelming sense of fun that is apparent in the artists’ making and my experience of ‘SUCKERZ’. I believe this exhibition is a playful, light-hearted, humorous, exciting, honest attempt at life chaos. Ultimately, it is all tongue-in-cheek.