Rivington St, London
2-25 April 2009
all photos: NoLionsInEngland
You can take the kid off the street but you shouldn’t take the street out of the Kid. Sheffield’s renaissance man Kid Acne covers the graffiti, gallery artist, music producer and DJ hipness angles and has staged his first London solo show in London at Stella Dore.
Kid Acne occasionally illuminates walls of London with colourful masked cat-girls, showing great effect from an economic cartoon style.
The lightboxes have a collection of black images which at first glance seem to reference some runic iconography or Eygyptian hieroglyphics. Close inspection reveals a more intriguing set of truths.
Melhor Que Nada (Better Than Nothing)
A semi-naked women in suspenders with a crop pony-rides another semi-naked women with a halter in her mouth. Architectural columns and details, garden tools, blindfolds, strange garb, strange handshakes, symbols of squares and triangles, detecting a pattern?
What are the women up to? Well apart from the aforementioned sexual shenanigans which hopefully you have ceased drooling over, there are women gathered around a table arms raised, arms linked, clearly joined together in some kind of secret society, a coven of women involved in a séance it seems, communicating with the dead and raising their sisters out of their graves. The strange garb, one trouser-leg rolled up, the strange symbols, a builder’s square and compass, illustrations of hands joined together, suddenly blatantly obvious Freemasonry references abound. Those columns, they’re the five orders of architecture, five different forms of pillar and pillars are central symbols in the freemason’s cult.
The checkered grid below the blindfold woman with the hangman’s noose round her neck, that’s the mosaic pavement said to be the floor of Solomon’s temple, alluding to cardinal virtues and the kind care of providence. (Ain’t google great). The Freemasonary link sends us back to re-assess the ritual content in the lightboxes, ritualism and secrecy are key features of a Freemason’s gathering and the twisted construct Kid Acne creates here is that the rituals are being conducted by women. A Freemason’s lodge is generally a male enclave, so perhaps the women are taking the men on at their own game.
The set piece displays are two groups of 15 Stabby Women, single female figures, often topless, all looking alert and outwards, nothing introspective or self absorbed about these women, all bar one have swords, a few wear disguises, all have at least one aspect in which the erotic element of an empowered woman is brought to the fore. No there is no more powerful stimulant of the male mind than an erotic image with a story attached, imagery and stories go together in the world of soft porn. So the priest said.
The show print is a two colour edition of 25 screenprint in a choice of green or copper colours.
Our bare-topped bandana’d Stabby Woman heroines get their moment in the sunlight in a pair of 4 colour screen prints produced by Choque Cultural of San Paulo, possibly explaining the Portuguese titles.
A freestanding cutout masked girl, semi crouched on the floor emphasises the close links of Kid Acne’s style to pop art, in fact it is very hard to see the simple stark characterisation of the female’s distinguishing characteristics without Julian Opie springing to mind.