• Laura Porter, Tips, 2015 (details) - Photography by Damian Grif ths, Courtesy of WHITE CRYPT
  • Laura Porter, Le chouchou des nanas, 2017 (details) - Photography by Damian Grif ths, Courtesy of WHITE CRYPT
  • Laura Porter, Le chouchou des nanas, 2017 (details) - Photography by Damian Grif ths, Courtesy of WHITE CRYPT
  • Exhibition view, Lupo Borgonovo - Photography by Damian Grif ths, Courtesy of WHITE CRYPT
  • Exhibition view, Wieske Wester - Photography by Damian Grif ths, Courtesy of WHITE CRYPT
  • Hannah Lees, A Rumbling is Felt, 2018 - Photography by Damian Grif ths, Courtesy of WHITE CRYPT
  • Hannah Lees, To it save every twig, 2018 - Photography by Damian Grif ths, Courtesy of WHITE CRYPT
  • Miriam Austin, Andraste 3, 2018 - Photography by Damian Grif ths, Courtesy of WHITE CRYPT
  • Miriam Austin, Andraste 3, 2018 - Photography by Damian Grif ths, Courtesy of WHITE CRYPT

In the show, the ceremonial use of food is re contextualised with a humorous twist, and mysticism and popular culture are mixed to produce a combination of the sacred and the profane that collapses our sense of time through anachronisms of the form and content of belief.

Walking down the stairs of the Crypt of St. Marks Church in South London and entering the main corridor gave me the impression of moving between disparate times and places. A stark lighting invades the space, while original brick-vaulted ceilings and stone floors contribute to the qualities of roughness and simplicity which evoked in me a sense of mystery. The atmosphere gently introduced me to the ritual of the church of Chamula mentioned in the exhibition text, connecting me with ‘otherness’ and displacement.

To the main corridor are annexes various small chambers, each of them focusing on a different ritualistic phase and presenting works by six international artists whose practices – touching on ideas of time, exoticism or hybrid rituals – are being applied to the ground of shifting traditions of the present. I start my itinerary entering the first room on my right side, where Laura Porter’s composition ‘Le chouchou des nanas’ (2017) is lying on the floor, opening a dialogue with Wieske Wester’s painting ‘Corn’ (2015): both works are without masks, surreal and nakedly physical, as systems in the process of becoming animated. Asparagus which seem hand fingers, painted forms which suggest genitals: an allusion to change and the double which let me wonder what these strange images might represent; an impenetrability of material which open up multiple overlapping forms of meaning. I’m exploring with my eyes and touching the labyrinthine forms of these layers and fleshly memories.
The same ambiguity permeates the second Porter’s installation ‘Tips’ (2015): if from distance its pastel pink patterning resembles an animal skin, looking closely I realised it is constituted by plastic fingernail tips, each of them presenting a slightly different UV print of top. The relationship between these body shapes on one side and the ‘shapeless’ aspect of the resulting texture on the other makes the composition fascinating, without being spectacular. I’m attracted yet repulsed, continuously pushed and pulled away.

Exhibition view, Laura Porter and Wieske Wester - Photography by Damian Grif ths, Courtesy of WHITE CRYPT

Exhibition view, Laura Porter and Wieske Wester – Photography by Damian Grif ths, Courtesy of WHITE CRYPT

Following the main corridor, ‘Andraste 3’ (2018) by Miriam Austin and Helene Appel’s small scale paintings echo and complete each other. If, for Happel the world appears as a flat surface, representing things that become tactile universes that have a visceral pull – with Austin’s work we experience the world through space and feeling. A perpetual opposition of irreconcilable semantic fields, a shifting between distance and closeness which invite to dissolve my subjectivity in the bodily contact with the works.
Lastly, Lupo Borgonovo and Hannah Lees through a seemingly exotic vocabulary try to answer an absolute logic and create a unique cosmogony, but which are impossible, for me, to identify. Looking at Borgonovo’s work, entitled ‘Fruttolo’ (2014) it seems to be in front of an archeological find, while moving closer I realise that this apparent skeleton consists instead, of fifteen rubber casts of exotic fruits. Also in Lees’ composition ‘To it save every twig’ (2018), a mix of onion skins, date seeds, Black rice soaking water and other elements, the ceremonial use of food is re-contextualised with a humorous twist. A combination of sacred and the profane, mysticism and popular culture which emerged also during her performance ‘A Rumbling is Felt’, (2018), where Lees read a script taken from Star Wars.

To me, the whole exhibition is able to mimic the energy that makes things live, move and grow; it become something intimate and foreign at the same time, oscillating between discordant rhythms and familiar patterns. And it’s in this encounter with shifting series of others and in the resulting destabilisation, that emerge a sense of self, of my self, and of yourself too. The ‘Real Thing’ is dispersed and what remains, is only the unexpected.

Always the Real Thing
Curated by Caterina Avataneo and Anaïs Lerendu
Artists: Helene Appel, Miriam Austin, Lupo Borgonovo, Hannah Lees, Laura Porter, Wieske Wester
16 March – 14 April 2018

White Crypt 
St Mark’s 337 Kennington Park Road
London SE11 4PW

Miriam Austin, Andraste 3, 2018 - Photography by Damian Grif ths, Courtesy of WHITE CRYPT

Miriam Austin, Andraste 3, 2018 – Photography by Damian Grif ths, Courtesy of WHITE CRYPT

Exhibition view, Hannah Lees and Miriam Austin - Photography by Damian Grif ths, Courtesy of WHITE CRYPT

Exhibition view, Hannah Lees and Miriam Austin – Photography by Damian Grif ths, Courtesy of WHITE CRYPT

Helen Appel, Pollack, 2017 - Photography by Damian Grif ths, Courtesy of WHITE CRYPT

Helen Appel, Pollack, 2017 – Photography by Damian Grif ths, Courtesy of WHITE CRYPT