The Past is History

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Curated by Zavier Ellis & Simon Rumley
This exhibition, curated by Zavier Ellis and Simon Rumley, independent English curators, was born from an elaborated reflection on the new aesthetics of young artists that live, work and/or permanently reside in London.
Nine painters, three video makers and one performance artist will exhibit, in whose works lays an obvious influence of fantasy-horror, gothic, electronic and neopunk culture, and absolute nihilism.
Observing their works we find ourselves facing a relentless flux of multi layered cultural references, flipping from anxiety to ecstasy to melancholy to horror. A hypnotic aesthetic binds it all together; in keeping with modern society’s seduction by a mass media that preys upon our increasingly voracious appetite for quick fix fulfilment. Inevitably we end up narcotized, adrift in the void. An alternate space of the apocalyptically sublime erupts from the chasm. Destruction, evolution and survival loop round infinitely: a raging virtual primordial soup, both beautiful and rancid.

From Sarah McGinity’s gigantic imaginary portraits where boredom and indifference are pinpointed as fundamental states in today’s generation, to that supplementary and apparently opposite by Gavin Nolan, with his strange, perverse and contradictory characters.
Large paintings by Kiera Bennett reveal an acid punk landscape that divides the metaphysical space where the new generations live their feelings, emotions and fears; fears that become reality in the oils of John Stark: desolate, neo-classical landscapes are populated by hermits, witches and corpses that provide an implied narrative rooted in timelessness.
Alex Gene Morrison lures his audience into a world of melting heads, rotten carcasses and giant flies. The idea of seduction and repulsion is very important to Morrison. His paintings, collages and animations brings the audience into a visceral experience and then keys into some of the base, yet very powerful human emotions such as desire, fear, disgust and wonder.
David Hancock’s work concentrates on the notion of a ‘Generation X’. He attempts to make palpable in his work the psychological gap between the world that we physically experience and the psychological states through which it is apprehended.
Richard Moon’s pictures evoke, through the manipulation of old photographs, an effect that, in a frighteningly current way, contrasts the household with an atmosphere of uncertain suspension. While the works of Sam Jackson frame the drive for a fetish-filled and shameless sexuality that pervades today’s young culture, eliminating thus the boundaries and the taboos in our perception of the human figure.
The pictures by Hugh Mendes complete the series of paintings: small portraits of death, Obituaries, newspaper clippings where in a few columns the lives of famous characters are condensed and recall how much our mortality remains an ever present wound in our hearts.
Jennifer Allen’s videos provoke laughter and uneasiness. Some of the scenes she creates are clearly amusing, but more often they are the cause of bewilderment in the viewer as they deal with fears and psychoses connected to sexuality. Simon Cunningham in his video Mollymuddle recalls a Pieta, but undermines the traditional notion with a combination of poignancy and deadpan satire.
Alexis Milne will perform The Departure in Rome and The Resurrection of Don Dirty Honky in Napoli which will link the two exhibitions, again focusing on death, sacrifice and desecration.

The Past is History (Part 1)
Curated by Zavier Ellis & Simon Rumley
Changing Role Gallery, Vicolo del Bollo 13, Rome
May 28th – September 12th 2008
Private View May 28th 7pm +
Featuring: Jennifer Allen, Kiera Bennett, Simon Cunningham, David Hancock, Sam Jackson, Sarah McGinity, Hugh Mendes, Richard Moon, Alex Gene Morrison, Gavin Nolan & John Stark + Performance by Alexis Milne

The Past is History (Part 2)
Curated by Zavier Ellis & Simon Rumley
Changing Role Gallery, Via Chiatamone 26, Napoli
May 30th – September 12th 2008
Private View May 30th 7pm +
Featuring: Jennifer Allen, Kiera Bennett, Simon Cunningham, David Hancock, Sam Jackson, Rebecca Kidson, Sarah McGinity, Hugh Mendes, Richard Moon, Alex Gene Morrison, Gavin Nolan & John Stark + Performance by Alexis Milne

Editor’s Notes:
Zavier Ellis founded his first gallery in London in 1998 two years after graduating. His most recent project, Charlie Smith london (www.charliesmithlondon.com), is a curatorial dealership that aims to promote interrelations between artists, curators and galleries whilst maintaining a priority to show work in its correct context and provide for progressively minded collectors. He is also a practising artist and is currently writing his first novel.
Simon Rumley founded New London Kicks (www.newlondonkicks.com) in 2005, a project that aimed to infiltrate the New York scene with new London talent. He is also a film director and writer when not curating.
Together they have established Ellis Rumley Projects and are co-curators of the seminal The Future Can Wait (www.thefuturecanwait.com).
The exhibition will be open from Tuesday to Saturday from 4pm to 8pm until 12 September 2008.

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