(X) A Fantasy was the last DRAF exhibition at its Symes Mews location. The show reinforced for one final time what has stood behind the curatorial vision of the organisation for 10 years – experimentation in exhibition making and programming, searching for yet unforged relationships in (art) theory and practice and presenting both, old and new names of the art circuit.
Right at the start, Dora Budor’s irregularly illuminated (frog) lights were displayed alongside erotic photographs of and by Pierre Molinier in his boudoir (Budor/boudoir homophony made me wonder if it was purely coincidental:)) while Paul Maheke’s smoky curtains quivered in the gallery space right next to a neon-like pole dancer, ‘Statue of Shahnoza’ (2007), by Julian Opie. Sultry & seedy, seductive & sweating was one of the modes of experience unfolding through the exhibition, referecing the night club and gay club culture as well as other secretive, unexposed or underground phenomena. The pinnacle of sensuality could have been Zoe Williams’s Pel III (2017) installed in Gallery 4; its purple glow, soft furs and carpets, wall-sized mirrors and luxurious Nishane fragrance made this an environment that most of the people during my visit wanted to get lost in.
Megan Rooney’s stark, white-washed ‘Everywhere Been There‘ (2017) felt like a cold shower after Pel III. It evoked a hospital room or a sanatorium ward where ripped mattresses with stuffed heads, open chests and animal tails metamorphosed into female patients/inmates one misguided treatment away from an early grave. While bending forward to gaze at (pity? sympathise with?) these unexpected inhabitants, Der Spiegel (2007) with its chorus of female protagonists concerned with love and age looped on the wall. The whole gallery gave off slightly absurd vibes as troubled humans faced personal and collective emotional entanglements.
The curator, Vincent Honoré, asserts in the exhibition text that ‘living, eating, dancing, seducing, reading, watching films, going online’ are all ordinary activities that have the ability to zoom in on ‘the political [in the] personal.’ They dislocate and mix up our public and private behaviours and drill in holes for new opportunities for transgression, self-exploration and fantasy. Furry, fragrant fantasy.