The Shock of the Now Issue 8
Featured Exhibition Text

'HDL' Group Exhibition
Xxijra Hii
8th September 2021

‘HDL’ at Xxijra Hii, on Deptford’s gallery highway Resolution Way, witnesses the modest gallery space transformed into an oversized cardboard box. The exhibition, its title a glaring anagram of a particularly ubiquitous courier service giant, serves to explore our ever-increasing reliability on shipping companies and the associated ritualistic processes that surround the sending and receiving of goods. Artists, perhaps more than most, know the importance of dependable packing and couriering, as well as the related anxiety that rears its head during a package’s sometimes lengthy period in transit. We all, however, regularly place our parcels, and trust, in the hands of companies bolstered by brand awareness, logo omnipresence and market dominance. ‘HDL’ utilises the cardboard box concept as a spatial limitation within which to display a carefully considered selection of artworks by a cohort of current students (and one recent graduate) of Goldsmiths MFA Fine Art course.

Tiffany Wellington’s involvement in the exhibition takes the form of a durational, ongoing modification of the physical space. Having designed a label-like screenprint that appropriated the exhibition’s own consignment agreement as textual inspiration, Wellington will intermittently print directly onto the walls and floor of the gallery-cum-cardboard box, a progressive proliferation of terminology such as ‘THIS IS A BINDING CONTRACT’ echoing the periodic stamping of a parcel throughout its journey. Elsewhere, Sihan Ling’s pillow of packing peanuts rests within the very box used to ship the artwork from Ling’s flat to Xxijra Hii. The pillowcase, from the artist’s Martial-Kitsch-Art series, depicts poses from the Martial Sports Boxing mandatory within Chinese education, utilized by Ling as a means to discuss his experience as an international student at Goldsmiths and the importance of intercultural exchange and communication against the backdrop of contemporary globalisation. 

Maya Shoham’s practice revolves around concepts of the readymade, incorporating quotidian imagery from her life as a means of documenting the present. Shoham is drawn to the site-specificity of visuals found in public places, be it on billboards, in supermarkets or at shopping centres, as well as the aspirational images often found within magazines. After collecting and collating a wealth of source material surveying contemporary consumer culture, Shoham recontextualizes the aforementioned imagery into both delicate models and maquettes or standalone enlarged numerals and letters that appear to have stepped right out of a billboard advertisement, questioning the perceived power garnered by scale. Additionally, Pop up Ads/ Model (2021) at Xxijra Hii displays a clear familial influence - her mother and father a stage designer and an architect respectively. Not dissimilarly, Tom Bull investigates the staged settings of antiquated English fiction within an interdisciplinary and performative practice, incorporating aspects of Tudor or Medieval architecture commonly associated with folk and fairy tales. Art and artifice unite in haunting works crafted from unconventional, almost agricultural, means; countryside cottages etched into plywood through burning or domicile structures coated in thick, tar-like bitumen.

Finally, Kavitha Balasingham’s disembodied mouth and eyes smile and gaze at the viewer from within the gallery/box’s MDF cladding, a playful intervention within the space that veers towards the melancholic with the addition of ceramic teardrops and the added knowledge of the artwork’s defiant yet withholding title, I’m always good (2021). Bodiless self-portraiture is also evidenced within the work of Temitayo Shonibare, as a multitude of miniature, 3D-printed, versions of the artist’s own head litter one corner of Xxijra Hii - stand-ins for the now commonplace proliferation of our identity through disparate online profiles, avatars and visages - with even more in endless production captured by the looped video Made in…? (2021).