VISUAL ARTS Popoccultural South London Gallery
Tuesday 29 October 1996
The group show Popoccultural exhibits work that is neither a sleek appropriation of pop-cultural forms, nor a Warholian smirk. It is a kind of post-pop art pop art. If pop art displayed an aristocratic interest in the popular, Popoccultural designates itself the strange fruit of mass culture.
Jason Fox provides a huge iconic paper doily, Cris Ofili a black Rubik's cube, and Paul McCarthy shows a series of "relics" demonstrating the connections between Hitler's and Disney architectural designs. Popoccultural is partly about the occulted dreamscape of popular culture, the collective unconscious as a sometimes grotesque cartoon akin to the world of a Jan Svankmajer. Hence Disney appears as a spectral presence. The New York artist Ellen Cantor produced two huge pencilled canvases for the show. They are the dream vortices and mandalas of Snow White, depicting swirling, ornate couplings as she waits for her Prince.
There is an anthropological perspective in the work of John Cussans and Ranu Mukherjee, who document their travels in Mexico while investigating the murderous "Narcosatanicos" cult. This cocaine-voodoo group worshipped Marilyn Monroe and terrorised the cultural limbo of the US / Mexican border (the same ethereal world of Robert Rodriguez's pulp action / vampire movie From Dusk Till Dawn).
Many of the exhibits in the show demand to be seen not as aesthetic objects, but as artefacts in their own right. There is a hairy totem sculpture from Jeffrey Vallance, who was previously commissioned to organise a Liberace grotto in Las Vegas. Paul McCarthy's ugly, Disneyesque installations and sculptures, animated by a kind of adolescent fascination and instinctive disgust in equal measures, has also produced a new sculpture especially for the exhibition, which could be described as son of his earlier Chocolate Blood Boy. And, as you leave the gallery, above the door is a huge iconic poster by Jeremy Deller, which has Keith Moon rising over his drumkit as he ascends into heaven. Alongside, there is a blessing: "I will be with you always, until the end of time."
Wandering into Popoccultural is a bit like discovering an ancient Egyptian tomb. It is a strange, almost arcane, hybrid show, constructed out of dismembered limbs. Like many of the objects on display, you have a sense of an entity in itself.
'Popoccultural' opens today and runs to 27 Nov
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