Cluster Photography Artist-in-Residency
Launched this year, the Cluster Residency Programme is proud to support four artists working in illustration, ceramics, jewellery and photography, granting each a solo exhibition and a customised package of support. As a professional photographer, Cluster focused on helping Lucy Shortman establish links with commercially minded creatives who could help her develop her practice and offer paid opportunities, several already having taken place. As a result of Shortman’s residency coinciding with that of jeweller Claudia Lepik, the pair have collaborated on a photo book that will be released next year. Finally, Shortman is now working on a second photo book that will be published by Cluster next year.
"We've become a nation measuring out our lives in shopping bags and nursing our psychic ills through retail therapy."
- Schmich, M. T. (1986) A Stopwatch on Shopping. Chicago Tribune.
Coined in the mid-eighties, the notion of ‘retail therapy’ has always been semifacetious in nature. Not entirely discrediting the alleviation of anxiety that non-essential shopping can afford, the phrase is also ironically conscious that habit forming tendencies can drive us into debt and subsequently deeper despair. Peaking with oniomania, a personality disorder characterised by obsessive shopping, an entire industry is supported by fostering unhealthy habits, deliberately transforming items of clothing from functional design into click-on-demand response to our addictive nerve centres.
To tease our impulse control, fashion is reliant on photography, creating streams of glossy images that advocate new stylistic realities, as well as producing countless static shots of models wearing the clothes you can buy online. Addressing this misuse of a medium with the medium itself, Lucy Shortman turns the camera from proponent of the fashion industry into a tool of critical reflection. In her sometimes intimate, sometimes staged, frequently humorous and stereotype tinged images, Shortman sets out to question the production process behind the images that stimulate our purchases.
Employing friends and herself as models, Shortman acts out the actions of wearing clothes and posing for the camera, however, her images capture moments outside the clinically perfected fashion photographic canon. Instead we see the photographer vacuuming a suit between shots, a model turned away from the camera and another ungracefully bent double. Collectively a semiotics of awkward body language emerges exposing the falseness of the fashion industry and asking us to recognise that the images we are presented with portray a false and selective reality. The result is an antidote of sorts, that allows us to poke fun at the pressures of retail therapy.
Lucy Shortman Biography
Lucy Shortman (b.1998) is a photographic artist living and working in Birmingham. She graduated with a BA in Photography at Arts University Bournemouth in 2019 in which she received First Class Honours. Her graduate work was selected as Free Range’s highlighted works and featured in an article for The Guardian on photography’s new talent. Lucy’s most recent project Common Era was published by ADM Publishing in collaboration with photographic agency ISSUE .07 and then subsequently self-published as an artist edition. Her work centres around themes of youth, nature and beauty. The photographs explore how visual language can be communicated using surface, colour and texture within and of the photograph. The portraits and still-lives of herself and friends represent the slippage between public and private while utilising the experiential and emotional energy of the subject.
Private View: 6th October | 5:30pm - 8:30pm
Opening Times: 7 - 10th October | 11am - 6pm
Find out more about the residency program, the exhibition and the artist here:
www.cluster-london.com | firstname.lastname@example.org | +44 7808 659141
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