Art From Around Town: 27 Guildhall Street


27 Guildhall Street in Folkestone is a temporary home to an exhibition laced with self-doubt (‘Can I Not Do Anything Right?’ asks a light piece on the entrance door), uncertainty and restraint or even pain, but also moments of personal discovery and spatial creation as determined by the body – the body seen through activist and/or feminist debates, the female body in all its manifestations.

In a series of six large photographs, topless women wearing only raised skirts in the middle of a wind-swept grass field are captured grabbing their vaginas, shouting with convincing ferocity. This empowering, self-assertive gesture is then contrasted to another work, a film in which a small white cardboard house traps a female performer with their arms and legs sticking through doors and windows. Out there in the wild, boundaries are overgrown and we can shout, run or dance topless; in our rooms, houses or offices, things, on the other hand, may feel tight and controlling. A wall piece at the back of the gallery space, with its big and plentiful eyes watching everything, creates an atmosphere of unease and survellaince, and incites a kind of self-censorship.

Works in this exhibition deal exactly with these messy, ‘flippable’ situations and histories affecting our existence in spaces. It is not by all means only a disquieting or oppressive kind of experience as an installation of four chairs with abstract formations stuck to their seats proposes. The video nearby reveals that the V-shaped space between an artist’s legs, the zone of desire, confusion and (unfortunately, still also) violence, here becomes a generator of tiny building units, miniature models of future spaces dictated by a female body that the artist glues to chairs as she sits on them. However, a sharp blade cutting around and hovering so closely to it brings us back to the exhibition title, ‘The Architecture of Anxiety’, as opportunities for agency and affirmation alternate with limitations, worries, distress. I pass a giant vagina swing on my way out and its up and down motion is a good illustration of where the contemporary debate on female and feminine issues is.



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