Hokey Cokey Chokey

3 Apr 2008 – 11 May 2008

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Keith Talent Gallery

London, United Kingdom

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Cocaine, once the drug of the rich, is now the most popular drug of the masses and this wonderfully socialist sharing of pleasure and vice is celebrated in, ‘Hokey Cokey Chokey'. Set in the toilet block of a prison wing, ‘Hokey Cokey Chokey', could be compared to Hogarth's, ‘Gin Lane' 1750, but without any moral stance its comment on drug use and the cult of celebrity remains ambiguous. Six figures, chained together and wearing prison orange boiler suits dance round a toilet piled high with the white stuff. Each of the figures is taken from a previous work by Doyle and Mallinson — (the Pinocchio-like wooden boy from ‘Black Forest Ghetto', the skinhead from ‘Fascist Fruit Boys' and the bishop from ‘Tanky Monk' etc.), a ‘greatest hits' of recent shows. The origins of the Hokey Cokey are obscure but Tillotson has speculated that the dance is a mockery of the Catholic mass. The Hokey Cokey refers to the ‘hocus pocus' and gesticulations of the Catholic priest, who, during Eucharist, with his back to the congregation signs the words ‘hoc est corpus'. These words of consecration accompany the elevation of the host, the point at which, according to traditional Catholic practise, the transubstantiation takes place, a belief mocked by Puritans and others as a form of ‘magic words'. Other sources conjecture that the dance is based on folk dance or Morris dance origins, such as the Hock-Tuesday Play. What is certain is that the Hokey Cokey was first recorded as a dance tune in 1942 by Jimmy Kennedy, also responsible for such songs as, ‘We're going to hang out the washing on the Siegfried line' and ‘Teddy Bears Picnic', ‘Hokey Cokey' becoming tremendously popular during wartime Britain, particularly in London's East End as a morale boosting dancehall knees-up. ‘Hokey Cokey Chokey' is both a critique of organised faith and a social comment on recent history, taking elements of folk art, British politics and personal religious experience as its basis. As with Doyle and Mallinson's other works, its aesthetic is consciously ‘home-made' and amateurish, marrying second hand found materials with rapidly made sculpted forms. Doyle and Mallinson have worked collaboratively since 2004. ‘Hokey Cokey Chokey' is their second solo show at Keith Talent, London. They have recently had solo shows at John Hansard Gallery, UK. MOT, UK and Odapark, NL.


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