Joy in retrospect: Lost languages and other voices

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The Independent Culture

The first major retrospective of British artist and photographer Joy Gregory opens in Bradford tomorrow.

Exploring race, cultural identity and gender stereotypes in original photographic, video and painting styles, the collection gathers together fourteen bodies of work spanning 20 years.



Gregory’s techniques range from hypermodern digital video installations to Victorian printing techniques, but all her work is infused with a distinctive (and timeless) style which seems to yearn for something lost long ago.



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The exhibition’s title, Lost Languages and Other Voices, refers to two works, Gomera, 2008 and Kalahari, 2009 (pictured), which draw attention to the marginalisation of African indigenous languages and their cultural importance.



There is an interesting series of self portraits, as well as whimsical photographs of a seductive pair of gold high heel shoes which travel the world, plus glimpses of the artist’s journeys to Sri Lanka, South Africa, the Orkneys and elsewhere.



Another series takes a hard edged yet satirical look at the world’s obsession with blonde femme fatales like Marilyn Monroe – and the racial implications the desire to be blonde contains.



Gregory’s work provides a stark social commentary but is fanciful and, often, aesthetically pretty. The landscapes might be barren in real life but, when rendered by Gregory, their vibrancy dial is turned right up.

Lost Languages and Other Voices is at the Impressions Gallery in Bradford from 24 November until 19 February 2011, impressions-gallery.com

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