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Lulu Bennett, 'Tomorrow is Tomorrow is Tomorrow', and 'Sleeve Shock': The Highlights

As we consistently work to expand the Artscope: London offering, our latest private tour was held at three gallery spaces we have long supported but not yet visited as part of our events initiative. As Artscope grows, we feel strongly about providing access to artists across a wide range of platforms and landscapes, who all have a unique and critical part to play within the contemporary art narrative. At two of Kristin Hjellegjerde's locations and ending at Bermondsey Project Space, Artscope engaged with razor-sharp examples of rich and nuanced creative expression, all surrounding themes of identity and representation in a post-binary society.

A visitor with a digital work at Bermondsey Project Space, 2023. Photo by Kate Fensterstock.
A visitor with a digital work at Bermondsey Project Space, 2023. Photo by Kate Fensterstock.

At Kristin Hjellegjerde in Wandsworth, we viewed the latest body of work from painter Lulu Bennett. A show which heralds an exciting new direction in the artist’s practice, the artist adopts a looser, more gestural style of paint application that build realms which traverse the boundaries between real and imaginary. Such a technique offers the artist a way of exploring and navigating her present experience as it unfolds in the mind and through personal notions of self, as well as in using concrete setting and visual cues via various female subjectivities. Bennett came out publicly as a trans woman earlier this year and notes that her own experiences have necessitated a different approach to painting that has involved ‘a process of purifying and stripping away the content and noise to find a more direct form of expression.’

Lulu Bennett, "They Don't Know Anything About Me", 2022. Photo by Kate  Fensterstock.
Lulu Bennett, "They Don't Know Anything About Me", 2022. Photo by Kate Fensterstock.

In this way, we see notions of frameworks and systems of definition reworked to reveal more fluid possibilities, all of which are inherently linked to an individual's unique take on such issues. This crucial theme in contemporary culture of recognising and then revolutionising societal constructs was very carefully adopted by each of the artists in our programme, as it related to their own experiences with gender, sexuality and what representation means both for the self and within artistic practice.

Lulu Bennett, "Anunciation", 2022. Photo by Kate Fensterstock.
Lulu Bennett, "Anunciation", 2022. Photo by Kate Fensterstock.

The group show entitled Tomorrow is Tomorrow is Tomorrow at Kristin Hjellegjerde at the London Bridge location featured a selection of fifteen artists represented by the gallery, and displayed work that specifically redefines these structured ways we traditionally view the world. The title which comes from Shakespeare's Macbeth references the promise of newness in future as well as how repetition and consistency can be a tool for discovery and innovation. Whilst the artists in the show considered themes spanning environmental responsibility and political and humanitarian crisis, several artists used their practice to uniquely navigate questions surrounding identity and the human condition as it related to their own preoccupations.

Installation view of "Tomorrow is Tomorrow is Tomorrow", at Kristin Hjellegjerde, 2023. Courtesy of Kristin Hjellegjerde.
Installation view of "Tomorrow is Tomorrow is Tomorrow", at Kristin Hjellegjerde, 2023. Courtesy of Kristin Hjellegjerde.

Laura Berger's painting creates dreamlike environments though the scenes that are affected less by the natural world and more by psychological experiences or memories. In her work, large-scale, translucent figures appear intertwined and overlapping, the curves of their limbs appearing both elemental and eternal. The real becomes the imaginary, suggesting a more complex web of systems that rely on deeply personal components. Ferdinand Dölberg is concerned with social structures and systems of power, and heavily influenced by the Dadaist movement which celebrated experimentation and flux in opposition to the rigid structures of the capitalist society in the 20th century. Dölberg renders fragmented figures and body parts on checkered backdrops that allude to play as a tool for disruption and the creative potential of the accidental. He channels material through an absurdist lens that generates a host of possibilities we ought to consider.

Laura Berger, "Fire Flowers", 2023. Courtesy of the artist and Kristin Hjellegjerde.
Laura Berger, "Fire Flowers", 2023. Courtesy of the artist and Kristin Hjellegjerde.

Ferdinand Dölberg, "Leerstelle Blockiert", 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Kristin Hjellegjerde.
Ferdinand Dölberg, "Leerstelle Blockiert", 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Kristin Hjellegjerde.

Mary Macken Allen’s tender painted scenes explore human relationships and the fluid boundaries of self. While each encounter or interaction occurs within a recognisable domestic space, translucent layers of oil paint and soft, yellow-tinted hues create a strange sense of ephemerality and solitude. Finally, Tom White is interested in how the materiality of paint and its movement across the canvas can capture the essence of a person, revealing a stronger truth than what might otherwise be found in biological determinants. White paints those who are closest to him and as such, each portrait is also an invitation to share in a moment of intimacy and trust.

Mary Macken Allen, "Touch", 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Kristin Hjellegjerde.
Mary Macken Allen, "Touch", 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Kristin Hjellegjerde.

Tom White, "Organza", 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Kristin Hjellegjerde.
Tom White, "Organza", 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Kristin Hjellegjerde.

We then caught the final day of the group show Sleeve Shock, a project curated by Jonathan Armour. The title refers to a term taken from Richard Morgan's Altered Carbon, which describes a "sleeve" as the receptacle which contains the human consciousness. Transhumanist thinking inherently establishes that the core element of humanity is a separate component to the "sleeve", through which it takes physical form but is independent. Furthermore, it is the theory that one day we will be able to upload our human consciousness into some form of device which can then be relocated into a new body, "re-sleeved", whether naturally born, modified or artificially created, as required or desired.

Installation view of "Sleeve Shock" at Bermondsey Project Space, 2023. Photo by Kate Fensterstock.
Installation view of "Sleeve Shock" at Bermondsey Project Space, 2023. Photo by Kate Fensterstock.

Crucial to the notion of subjectivity in navigating transhumanist identity theory, when an individual is "re-sleeved" they often experience a degree of sleeve shock. The more foreign the sleeve is in comparison to the individual’s birth sleeve, in terms of age, race, gender (i.e. areas of unique personal experience), the more intense the shock.


Annalisa Hayes , "Container/Liberator (these boxes weren’t made for me)", 2022. Photo by Kate Fensterstock
Annalisa Hayes , "Container/Liberator (these boxes weren’t made for me)", 2022. Photo by Kate Fensterstock

Sleeve Shock featured works from artists who all experienced aspects of "sleeve shock" as part of their individual journeys. Annalisa Hayes sculptural work that uses elements of the home and physical environment are used to reveal characteristics of her identity using familiar, but often restrictive and problematic, elements of her surroundings. Eloise Schoeman reflects on her identity as a South African woman living in the UK, and what it means to confront issues of womanhood and ultimately, sexual assault in a society that made promises of freedom and safety. Itar Pas is a virtual character who constantly receives information about humans but cannot relate. Whereas Itar appears to be the marginalised figure, it becomes clear that it is the "normal" people who are in fact trapped in a world sustained on outdated and dangerous values.

Eloise Schoeman, "The Call", 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Bermondsey Project Space.
Eloise Schoeman, "The Call", 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Bermondsey Project Space.

Alejandro Spano/Itar Pas, "In My Reality", 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Bermondsey Project Space.
Alejandro Spano/Itar Pas, "In My Reality", 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Bermondsey Project Space.

Miguel Punzalen's Sprawl is an attempt to relay the volatility of the human mind within the body it inhabits, both establishing the entities as separate and thus susceptible to tension, independent action and change. The amorphous “a-being” in this painting symbolises that bittersweet, internal battle of existential dysmorphia as it navigates itself through the embattled cityscapes of its unbridled, neurological impulses outwards onto absolute self-determination.

Miguel Punzalen, "Sprawl", 2021. Courtesy of the artist and Bermondsey Project Space.
Miguel Punzalen, "Sprawl", 2021. Courtesy of the artist and Bermondsey Project Space.

For more information on the artists and galleries in this feature, or on our private programmes, please email kate@artscopeintl.com.


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