Launching on July 1st, Underpinned by the Movements of Freighters seeks to tease out the strange links between mythology and industry. The exhibition, including the work of twelve artists, is situated in The Florence Trust, a grade-1 listed Neo-gothic church turned artist studios. Alongside this exhibition, a limited-edition zine will be released, which explores some of the specific, real-world impacts of the relationship between mythologies and industry.
Mythologies have a great deal of power, serving different agendas over time. The nuclear family is one of these mythologies. If we trace the lineage of this myth, we find its origins in England, an approval by the Church, and a key role in the Industrial Revolution. After this it is exported as the fundamental Modern social unit, considered to have a high moral character. It is in this moral understanding that we can almost grasp another, deeper mythology. It is the fundamental myth of the West that to become ‘Modern’ is to go through the process of industrialisation.
Underpinned by the Movements of Freighters aims to unpick any binary understanding of mythologies, and instead show how their trajectories intersect with industrial developments. The exhibition presents a cosmic soup of mythological and industrial influences, where you will find slippery truth in references to the darker side of folklore, the alchemical beginning of the scientific method, unused patents, and verdant utopias.
By situating the exhibition and zine launch in the Romantic architecture of The Florence Trust, whilst the reverence of nature and the ephemeral seep back into contemporary culture, Underpinned by the Movements of Freighters pays a wary homage to Romanticism whilst critically updating and contextualising the overlap for the contemporary world.
In Ajla Zihan Yi’s ‘Membrane’, screens sit on pools of latex, displaying a 3D modelled avatar in a constant state of flux, attempting to identify the boundaries of their anatomy. This high-tech installation turns Romantic ideals on their head, focussing not on the internal struggle of a clearly defined hero but instead the frontier between self and perception. The fluidity of the being repeats the logic of the latex forms around the screen, which are in stark contrast to the rigidity of the gothic brickwork of the church.
In a similar material tension, Susan Jacobs’ work presents a steel platform supporting steaming ceramic bricks infused with holy basil, based on 17th century recipes for the spontaneous creation of scorpions. The work simultaneously pays homage to the industrial and mythical histories of the ceramic brick, whilst investigating the absurd origins of the scientific method.
Throughout the space, the three meter high arches of the church are filled to display a wallpaper by Scott Young. Young’s installation discreetly brings into question the line between the decorative and fine arts. His wallpaper serves the same fate as all wallpaper in providing a backdrop to other works. The paintings include Kemi Onabule’s utopic visions of a verdant world populated by ambiguous figures, and Salome Wu’s otherworldly canvases, displaying ethereal beings that blend between background and foreground.
The zine by the same title serves to provide examples of the real world impact of the themes in the exhibition. Sabeen Chaudhry explores the rich history of salted-caramel and it’s transition from fantasy into ubiquity, Sherie Sitauze looks into quantum mechanics and their ability to provide resistance to colonialist thinking, and Cole Denyer’s poem explores the anachronism of London’s commuter belt.