The L-13 Light Industrial Workshop, London
Art review: James Cauty, The Aftermath Dislocation Principle Parts I and II
Zoe Pilger is an art critic for The Independent and winner of the 2011 Frieze International Writers Prize. Her first novel, Eat My Heart Out, will be published by Serpent's Tail in February 2014. She is also researching a PhD at Goldsmiths, University of London, on the subject of romantic love and sadomasochism in the work of contemporary female artists. She has appeared on BBC's The Review Show and Sky News
Friday 11 October 2013
When you walk into this gallery under the arches of Hoxton Station, you are confronted by a spectacle in the best sense. The Aftermath Dislocation Principle Part I (2013) is a large installation of a post-apocalyptic Britain in which all the familiar signs of civilization have been ravaged.
Rather than the aloofness of so much contemporary art, this wonderful, politically angry work by Liverpool-born musician-turned-artist James Cauty offers the viewer an abundance of visual detail. It is akin to the complex, painstaking drawings of Paul Noble, but Cauhty’s world of disaster has been created with miniature model-making kits, the playthings of children and hobbyists. Cauty built it with precision, then vandalised it. The result is engrossingly vivid, funny in places, terrifyingly elaborate, and formally fascinating.
This cityscape might once have been London. It is positioned at chest-level so the viewer can absorb close-up the tiny stories occurring amidst this toxic wasteland, which begins as countryside, complete with a burning medieval church-cum-castle, then shades into an urban hell, dominated by the blue flashing lights of marooned police cars and the constant crackle of an emergency call, played on a loop.
Cauty, now 56, became famous in the early 90s for being one half of acid house duo The KLF. As a visual artist, he has created miniature scenes of the London riots in jam jars. There are overtones of the riots here too: a tiny Chicken Cottage, smashed up, a grey tower-block, windows glowing erratically. A surreal white horse can be seen through one of the windows.
But the sinister power of the work is due to the fact that the narrative is never fully revealed. Explicitly anti-capitalist or protest art can seem trite; this doesn’t. A tiny red telephone box teeters, its light still on, sunk in grey earth. Nearby, a tiny policeman stands alone, his hands thrust into his pockets, his neon yellow jacket a puny symbol of an authority that is no longer. More policeman peer over the edge of the work: a precipice.
After taking early retirement, The KLF burnt £1 million – their entire earnings – and filmed it as an art performance. This spirit of rebellion is evident here in the desecrated Nike tower, the broken McDonalds drive-thru, the sense that capitalism has eaten itself. The policemen who wander round this desolate no-man’s-land are bereft. Because the notable absence are civilians – there is no one left to control.
8 Oct - 20 Oct
Listen to his collaboration with Naughty Boymusic
Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Tidal launch: The most pretentious lines from Alicia Keys' valedictory speech
- 2 Trevor Noah: Jon Stewart's replacement faces online criticism over 'anti-Semitic' tweets
- 3 Martha Stewart accuses Snoop Dogg of 'smoking for four hours' during Justin Bieber Roast
- 4 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
- 5 Syrian child photographed 'surrendering to camera because she thought it was a gun'
Tidal launch: The most pretentious lines from Alicia Keys' valedictory speech
Tidal: Jay Z's Spotify rival streaming service criticised for making wealthy artists even richer
Clarkson, Hammond and May Live: Top Gear presenters to appear on stage in new live format
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Menstruation-themed photo series artist 'censored by Instagram' says images are to demystify taboos around periods
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers