Friday, 23 January 2009
LUDOVICA GIOSCIA'S 'TIGER ECONOMY' ISLAND!
23 Jan – 26 Feb 09
The Agency is pleased to present the second solo exhibition of works by Ludovica Gioscia. After her successful exhibition in S.T.O.R.A.G.E Gioscia returns with a large-scale installation piece and new wallpaper sculptures. Gioscia’s works engage with mise-en-scene, scaled down architecture and scaled up fashion elements. Taking her cue from the baroque and in a wider sense all things exuberant, playful or variational, she creates wall sculptures and whole environments with ephemeral materials such as printed paper, silks and lightweight wooden screens. Akin to models, which in their semi- human scale take on a life of their own, the works are always one finely balanced step away from destruction or being dismantled. Dainty, seductive and with multiple and complex iconographic references they speak of a grandeur which can be folded away, ripped off the wall or blown over. Yet, their joyous and colourful essence belies the underlying destabilisation they actually represent.
Tiger Economy is the chosen title for this show and title of the installation, a much apt nod to the current status of financial turmoil as well as to one of her cultural reference points, contemporary East Asia. Gioscia begins with luxury goods, such as wallpapers designed to give the appearance of opulence. Opulence such as it is found within the world of super casinos and over designed hotels with the Bellagio in Vegas perhaps is the starting point and driven to new heights in the candy coloured domes of casinos in Macao and resorts like the Atlantis Hotel in Dubai. It is a world in expectation of growing wealth expressed with newfound formalisms, which echo the excesses of the Baroque, a world which is as tempting as it is also always on the brink of ruin as this level of lavishness and with that stylistic impurity is not financially and aesthetically sustainable, although always dazzling. It is here that the dichotomy of Gioscia’s work becomes apparent. On the first glance the candy and neon coloured works are highly desirable, their titles, references and realisation stylish, fun and fashionably elegant. On second glance, whilst luscious looking and often hand-printed the materials are mere lining paper, mass manufactured wallpaper imported from China, seductive, derivative, illusionistic and in a way easily discarded. The opulent shapes of her wall sculptures inspired by the cornices of Baroque palaces and the elaborate folds of 16th century busts, Fifties cocktail dresses, Chinese and Venetian fans, are created by crunching and ripping wallpapers covered in bits of flaky paint of old and crumbling walls. Gioscia freezes a performative moment of play with the shiny simulacra of luxury as sculptures. In these, baroque motifs juxtapose with Disney figures, tasteless golden quasi-modernist wall coverings and various shades of fluorescence. The works started off as medium scale wall pieces mimicking bourgeois cabinet pieces with a twist, and have now mutated into larger “origami” structures, which attach to walls like a decorative growth or flattened architectural models. These works have been named after famous and decadent characters, be they disco diva queens, historic tyrants, or as in this new series, ‘Beheaded Monarchs’.
The installation Tiger Economy highlights another new element in Gioscia’s work. Child-scale three dimensional installations made from flat-pack screens and wooden shapes mimick the artifice and iconoclasm of the aforementioned entertainement cities. Rather than being orientalist the work embraces the architectural style, but copies it in mere outline. Wooden screens are filled with silks from Thailand and Hongkong, cut-out shapes hold wallpapers feature decorative patterns made from quotations of Liechtenstein, Picasso, Fontana. With their videoarcade type piracy the screens populate a large irregular platform, which in turn represents a comicstrip type popart shape. The work is lightweight, theatrical, camp, irreverent and no longer post-modern. Or post-modernism’s worst nightmare- it is the simulacrum and it works just fine. Despite knowing that it is no more stable than Westworld I want to believe in it, stroke it, embrace it. I too covet Babylon, Atlantis and all that glitters. So does Gioscia and we both and the audience will know that all that glitters is not gold. This is one shiny exhibition to have unashamed fun in, and that is the very moment that we also understand the critique, which is hidden under all that glitz. The great thing about art is that it still works even when consumer culture has just died.
Ludovica Gioscia, born 1977 in Rome, lives and works in London. Gioscia has shown widely internationally including recently in projects at the Jerwood Foundation and the South London Gallery as well as Tadu Contemporary in Bangkok and she is featured a/o in the book Collage by Blackdog Publishing as well as Flashart, London Calling. She is due to have further solo Shows at Sara Tecchia Gallery New York in March, Siobhan Davies Studios, London in Autumn and also will participate in a group exhibition at the Fundacio Miro in Barcelona in spring 2009.
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