Flurina Sokoll @ Slade MFA Degree Show 2018
Emoji summary: 🕊📻☁️
When I write about art, i am my own point of reference. its value and quality is not so much decided but rather it is felt; like the spanish verb opinar, my review becomes opinioned. my experience is what matters ! n using myself as a point of reference is honest when quite frankly i don’t know the art history canon well enough 2 name drop and throw down honey-thick waves of theory over my writing (and i kno a lot of people in the art world want to enjoy reading about it but but can’t because they don’t kno either). our readers know we’re coming to them with embodied criticism, but for the new and one-time visitors, i wanna give a close hug reminder bout that today because we’re coming into summer and tomorrow I start therapy. my criticism will be emotionally-decided while i incubate my body and sieve my memory of its trauma. I’m really scared to start.
but tomorrow is tomorrow and today is right now and with it I found a room of art that kept me still for a long moment and want to honour it - that is, Flurina Sokoll’s work at the Slade MFA Degree Show. i always look forward to the Slade around this time (fyi the art school in UCL) because of all the degree shows I visit in this country i find the most artists there - ones who hav learnt to manifest their intuition and handle art-things with specificity n magic. The students on both the BA and MA get to degree show season and look like they’ve been exhibiting for a few yrs already (and sometimes the professionalism and hi-production quality of the art here can choke itself red, but mostly it’s good!). Compare that to the A-Level ‘art plus meaning’ of Liverpool John Moores University, the cheesiness of Manchester School of Art, the abject messiness of Central Saint Martins, and the glibness of Goldsmiths,, and slade feels weirdly authentic. I dunno how they do it.
Sokoll’s work is in the basement of the Slade. the airspace is cut with long white curtains and there are object assemblages here n there, at different altitudes in the room. All moments of the exhibition are plain, a bland meal: a moon-round lamp inside a shopping basket, a standalone dishwasher wrack on top of a mirror, some fabrics bundled together. There is a stout little radiator in that old PC colour that's somewhere between pale yellow, pale green and pale grey: banal and still decorated, it sits with another bundle on top of its head, this one made with a dishrag, what looks like the padding on a bra, a big gold shell and a limp faux leather belt (the 90s type, too thin for the size of standard belt loops). There are also a few sections of the wall painted, with one red, two a sad yellow, and another a pale blue (which only showed itself to me after I’d been in the space long enough. I had been leaning against parts of the walls left natural). I know it sounds like a lot of things but it was bland remember, stick with me and my ingredients list: so, also two wooden shapes with long metal legs, and another metal structure base with clay arches that join together like four hands. finally (and what I stood with most) there are three large rough carpet rectangles in an L shape, with a table over them. the table has legs that look like bent knees, and the table is on an angle so that it is aligned perfectly with the inner bend of the L. I know I have anthropomorphised this description a lot and i guess i am endeared to the art; so many little n big yawns, i was swinging between the things the artist had done and enjoying how they played with scale. enjoying the decisions along the way, walking slowly to my bedroom to sleep.
Now, I do not believe that art is made sacred. It is not born with any inherent value n the artist can’t imbue objective strength in it either. that is dependent on the gallery visitor n what their body has known as well as what their body needs there n then/ whether they accept and agree with the meaning the artist will often persuade, the press release etc/ whether they make it up themselves. i had gone round the slade degree show once and I came back the next day purely to spend time with Sokoll’s art. I hung around in the room like i was haunting it, n I watched plenty of people come in and immediately head back out bc it just wasn’t the art for them. I felt such pure comfort in the way the artist had aligned colour and shape with this basement room specifically, like pouring the right amount of milk to match a line in a measuring jug half way thru a recipe - u make the measuring cup make sense - you fill the wall with just the right amount of paint and settle. Other people might want/need art that is entertaining and awake, but today i want to hibernate, I want to mute everything before tomorrow, before therapy, when my head will start to vibrate. i had all these reactions to the art and thought wow, maybe I shouldn’t even review this because I am going to sound like the emotional drunk person at the party telling you about the moment in their childhood when it all went wrong - and it’s not even midnight yet, and you don’t actually know them. (the artist might read this review and be the listener pretending to need the toilet to get away). but ! I claim my own reaction. Sokoll’s installation is peak spiritual domesticity. Sometimes I look after this woman’s house and cat-sit for her while she’s away, and on the wall at the end of her bed she has ripped the wallpaper away into the shapes of leaves, baring the plaster below. there aren’t many, it’s just the slightest way 2 lighten up and pattern her surrounding. there is a banner of paper doves like bunting which stay mid-flight over the leaf-pattern too. and I have the best sleeps there, the house feels warm all year, n that’s what I got from the art today, a solid but dreamless sleep.