Visual art: The day you were porn

'TOSS' OLD BUTCHERS, BRISTOL
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The Independent Culture
PHOTOGRAPHS OF the model Stella Tennant wearing T-shirts emblazoned with their nifty logo are the main publicity weapon in the armoury of the would-be art terrorists Toss, a duo of Bristol artists hoping to blag themselves a slice of Sensation-style notoriety.

Like a West Country version of Gilbert and George, Patrick Joyce and Chris Chalkey have submerged their identities in favour of a corporate image whose props include identical clothing, a white Rolls-Royce (which broke down when they were taking the Finnish cultural attache to see a preview of their show), and monogrammed cigars and champagne bottles. There's also Toss HQ, a country mansion that looks like a location for The Avengers, although it's only been seen in photographs.

Their debut exhibition, in a derelict building which they have refurbished, remains true to their name throughout, as it is almost wholly concerned with masturbation and pornography. Most of the works take the form of industrial or chemical units (chest freezers, really), in bland, white-painted metal or plastic, fitted with various openings that the viewer is invited to poke head and arms into. A light then goes on in the cabinet and you see the reflection of your face as part of a tableau where you appear to be doing something unspeakable, or are having something unspeakable done to you.

There's also a vending machine that promises a packet of porn in return for a pound coin. The box that comes out is, of course, empty; a printed note on the bottom informs you that: "This is not an art object and has no value. Please dispose after use."

The final exhibit is an installation in the form of a Sixties parental bedroom where you are invited to search under the bed and on top of the wardrobe to discover a secret cache of risque magazines. You enter and leave the exhibition by way of the luxuriously appointed shop, which is selling a wide range of knick-knacks and clothing, including those Stella Tennant T-shirts.

Toss may well, in Shakespeare's words, be an expense of spirit in a waste of shame, but there's something undeniably impressive, as well as creepy, about all the effort involved for what is, basically, one off the wrist. They may be playing with themselves, but they take it very seriously.

'Toss' runs until 14 August at the Old Butchers, 35 Jamaica Street, Stokes Croft, Bristol, from 11am to 5pm daily.

The Toss website is at www. toss.demon.co.uk

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