|Mannequin Blast by Joseph Steele|
Closing down after being priced out on the scene by a larger gallery (with squatters taking over the derelict space for a while), Arbeit has, to my delight, now reopened in Hackney Wick, an area that still has the feeling of something genuinely left-field, with an artistic community intact, rather than degenerating into a blur of yuppie bars and gourmet burger joints. Indeed, located on White Post Lane, Arbeit is right in the centre of things, located next to The Yard theatre and music venue, and across an industrial-looking square from Crate Brewery, where you can drink nice locally-brewed stout or porter (both of which, admittedly, I am hugely into, being a saddo middle-aged microbrewery obsessive) and eat delicious pizza while overlooking the local river (there’s also an incongruously industrial-looking German deli nearby run by a slightly weird woman, but I won't go into that). I’ll be involved with a few things there this summer, including the below, whose amusing press release I have copied and pasted. Sounds charming.
Steele vs. Freeakpong
Works by Joseph Steele and Nicola Frimpong AKA Freeakpong
"The world is beautiful, but has a disease called man". Friedrich Nietzsche
In a jolting new exhibition, artists Steele and Frimpong (aka Freeakpong) collaborate and join together in a savage-like force, forming an alliance against humanity. Their somewhat violent works comment upon everything they believe is wrong with the world (and that's a lot). They seem to hate us all - white, black, religious, atheist, homosexual, bisexual, heterosexual; relationships, families, babies...every single form of humanity, every single one of us, and whatever category we might fall under, they despise.
Both artists expose the worst in us, the audience. Both together as an artistic team and as individual artists, they describe how wrong we are, and remind us of our felonies and misdeeds, of our immorality and our ignorance. Nothing is ever good; negativity is inescapable and flows through every part of us into the deepest, darkest corners of ourselves, polluting our souls.
Freeakpong's child-like watercolour drawings explicitly confront and expose our innermost fears, darkest thoughts and corrupt fantasies. Sexism, hatred and political error are especially prevalent themes and play important roles within her obsessively detailed work. We are often caught off-guard as a spectator and pushed into feeling like the heroine character of the painting: defenceless, hopeless and naked, void of any excuses or answers - we have all done wrong.
Steele's work, on the other hand, isn't a representation of fantastical occurrences. He creates first-hand scenes within space, where the space is his canvas. He creates tangible experiences with which the audience can interact with, drawing them in, to become part of them almost instantaneously. Ever wanted to be a porn star or a suicide bomber?! His central installation will decimate everything we believe in by freezing a moment in time; he glorifies a bomb and kneels appraisingly to the bomber, inviting you to do the same.
"This is the pit of my soul. I spit my thoughts and in feelings onto the canvas. It's disgusting to see" - Freeakpong
"I am terrified that I exist. I fill my work with violence and anger as a distraction" - Joseph Steele