For ‘Being Here’ at Kupfer Project Space, curator Jeanette Gunnarsson brings together artworks by Saelia Aparicio, Evangelia Dimitrakopoulou, Roxman Gatt, Jack Jubb and Davinia-Ann Robinson for a group exhibition examining contemporary corporeality. As we continue to live through a time of increased economic uncertainty, political unreliability and social unpredictability, the exhibition proffers the questions ‘What does it feel like, being here?’. With so much seemingly out of our control and with purely elemental existence foregrounded, ‘Being Here’ witnesses the transmutation and transfiguration of the human body into forms that can withstand, and be a testament to, their own reality.
Recent Slade School of Fine Art MA graduate Davinia Ann Robinson’s site-specific sculptural installation ‘whose flesh you are’ (2021) repurposes earth and clay from colonial nature environments in which to leave impressions of her body as part of the artist’s practice of ‘presencing’. By allowing both her body and the precious natural soil to heal haptically as one from experiences of colonial trauma, as well as incorporating accompanying soundscapes that evoke bodily connections to nature, Robinson is able to explore habitual soil conservation and commune directly with the earth. Similarly, Evangelia Dimitrakopoulou series of ‘Infusion Pots’ (2021), rosin and resin vessels presented upon oversized upholstered pin cushions, solicit an immediate sensory response. Dimitrakopoulou, a recent MFA graduate from Goldsmiths, has accommodated within her alluring pots a Brugmansia plant and liquid infused with Brugmansia leaves, a particularly potent poisonous plant whose ingestion can lead to muscle paralysis and induce hallucinogenic effects, should viewer’s curiosity overcome them.
‘Blackberry’ (2020) by Saelia Aparcia depicts two humanoid figures in a carnal embrace, one whose skin is studded with thorny barbs, the other flecked with ocular pores. With their indeterminate species, we appear to have caught the two forms mid-metamorphoses, as Aparicio subverts our preconceived limitations of a body and as a result conventional concepts of gender, appearance and sexuality. Comparably, Roxman Gatt’s video ‘Smoke Machine, Lion And Jeep’ (2021), a filmic reenactment of a performance piece originally staged in Barcelona as part of Lucía C. Pino’s exhibition ‘Makebelieve Neuromancer’, finds the artist at a contemplative moment of transformation. Gatt, a trans-male artist whose practice questions traditional notions of masculinity and aims to document lived trans and queer experiences, firstly appears running and exercising on a football field before progressing to dancing and being transported to the interior of a nightclub. Here, the artist continues to cavort passionately, all the while wearing an altered and adapted school uniform, a loaded garment notoriously troubling for non-binary, trans or gender-nonconforming youths.
Finally, Jack Jubb’s paintings result from scouring the internet for long-forgotten imagery, uncovering outdated prosaic photos of long-sold out items from rudimentary websites, distant memories from primitive social media or search engine fodder from neglected blogs. By reproducing these images as psychedelic distortions of the original, hazy warped recreations of their former selves adorning recycled paper, Jubb comments on not only the often unconsidered lifespan of the content we upload online but also its close comparison with the pernicious longevity of non-biodegradable waste.