Insisting on the multiple authorship involved in its production, the exhibition is structured through an exchange of material interests and sculptural languages that emerge from working with and alongside industrial and post-industrial production processes.
Reaching across the space, a new work by Madeleine Pledge consists of bands of elastic s t r e t c h e d and held in place by stacks of generic bent-ply faux-modernist chairs, bought from office furniture suppliers where they are listed as ‘Keeler Chairs’ after the replica Arne Jacobsen chair Christine Keeler famously sat on. Developing from an earlier work Stretch (After Sylvie Fleury), 2019, the slanted bands of red, white, and black elastic borrow from Sylvie Fleury’s series of aluminium-mounted c-type prints of patterned knitwear contoured by the bodies wearing them.
Alice Channer’s responsive and multi-part work //Every///Separation///Is///A///Link//, 2017 finds a new s t r e t c h e d existence within the project space. Consisting of bangles cast in bronze and aluminium through a lost wax technique, the work re-casts and re-articulates itself on the gallery wall with newly multiplied zebra-striped parts. This work is interspersed with pieces from Pledge’s ongoing series Stretch (afterimage) (crash) (2008) / (2020): condensed, wall-based works made from an aggregate of pulped 2008 and 2020 editions of British Vogue, porcelain slip, and activated charcoal powder or calcium powder.
Starship, a floor-based sculpture shown here by Channer for the first time, is made from Portland stone described by the artist as ‘the stone of the British State... used as a guarantor of whiteness and apparent purity in monumental structures like Buckingham Palace, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Cenotaph, the Bank of England, the British Museum, and more recently in luxury retail – Burberry stores.’¹ The stone reveals its composition from the once-living bodies of the fossils visible within it, making the processes involved in its production transparent. The sculpture also loosely reflects the ‘glamourous’ mirror-polished surfaces of Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket invoked by its title.
The windows running along the back of the space are dressed in a vinyl print made specifically for the exhibition. Drawing on the apertures, loops, and points of entry that punctuate the practices of both artists, the print isolates, manipulates, and s t r e t c h e s the eye holes of re-made Rosemarie Trockel Balaklavas that have circulated within Pledge’s work since 2019. It also parallels the presence of cast aluminium necklines and waistbands echoed in Channer’s previous work.
Within and between the works in Weaponized Glamour, geological, biogenic, and human timelines are folded into one another: recent capitalist cycles of boom and bust, fast fashion and post-industrial production lines overlap with the longer histories of still-sharp 14th–18th century pins, pulled from the Thames mud and coated in chrome, and the slow production of fossil-rich Portland stone. Using a shared understanding of ‘weaponized glamour’ to compact and flatten these unruly timelines, the works are part of the artists’ ongoing attempts to acknowledge their own complicity and ‘punch holes and make ruptures’ in the kinds of ‘smooth, hard, continent, complete and totalizing surfaces’² produced by late-stage global capitalism.
¹ Alice Channer in conversation with Madeleine Pledge, September 2021