Contrary, Abrasive, Antagonistic
Reading the title of MUESLI’s latest project, an exhibition inviting The White Pube, it was reminiscent of a Coke or McDonalds advert. Entitled Live Laugh Love, it was clear we were entering the realms of #happiness, Instagram filters and other such social media bravado. Walking into somewhat of a capitalist dream, you know, buy a fizzy drink to feel better, go to an exhibition to feel inspired, one assumed a hilarious ironic critique awaited.
The exhibition contained and assemblage of ‘low art’, both bought and found. An unsettling atmosphere prevailed in the semblance that we would laugh, or instantly dismiss such design based work that predominantly decorates people’s homes. This assumed inanity became tangled and muddied with The White Pube’s expectation that the audience would also be on their side, whilst simultaneously behaving in an antagonistic manner. Confused emoji.
At the crux of this exhibition was not the actual works of art on display but a presentation The White Pube delivered on the night. Introducing Eleanor Cook-Higgins, friend of The White Pube’s who opened their talk. Eleanor, clearly disenfranchised by art, presented her bitterness and aggression towards the art industry via a pre-recorded Skype conversation. Interpreting Eleanor’s heated ramblings, and somewhat offensive analogies, sarcastically raised eyebrows hit new highs. Sweepingly comparing art to the scientific fields in an attempt to undermine it, Eleanor championed the works of pharmaceutical firms who produce 10p paracetamol tablets: “10p paracetamol affects your life and my life. Whereas like, some like engineering advancement for NASA is going to have fuck all impact on what I am having for my dinner”. Such a point of view would really be wonderful to get on board with. However, when you consider the ethical implications of how some Pharmaceutical companies keep themselves in healthy business, one can’t help but re-evaluate this proclamation.
As Eleanor says, “It’s all science”. Everything from fine/research art to ‘low art’ is science, it’s all science; Everything is valid until proven otherwise. According to Eleanor, it is the hierarchies and class systems that makes academic/research/fine art less accessible. A superiority complex. And this point pretty much devalues the rest of the talk. Anybody, including Eleanor, who has been to university is instantly made Middle Class, if they weren’t already. That is if you believe such a defined class system still exists.
This talk on the whole is full of sweeping statements and generalisations which are echoed by the unimaginatively curated exhibition which accompanied it. The display comprised of ‘low art’ two hotbeds of contemporary visual art. Acting almost like class clowns, The White Pube seem to thrive off any reactions or antagonism. The sincerity with which the rest of their talk was delivered was bemusing. But of course no one would ever audaciously exempt themselves of being free of capitalism, or ‘Crapitalism’ as the White Pube refer to it.
Given that this was a one night only exhibition a phenomena that requires deeper consideration it is fair to assume The White Pube were simply testing the water. Sadly, Live Laugh Love has raised more questions than it has answered.
Ultimately, we can only assume this exhibition-cum-performance is a tongue-in-cheek assessment of what lies ahead of this duo as they step into the world post-graduation.
For anybody who was unable to attend this exhibition, the artist’s talk is available to watch retrospectively here.
MUESLI is an artist led contemporary arts organisation engaging with a variety of artists and art organisations throughout the UK, currently based at The Royal Standard in Liverpool as part of the 1.11 residency.
Felicity Black is an artist and writer currently based between Liverpool and Manchester.
The Royal Standard
Vauxhall Business Centre
131 Vauxhall Road