Galerie Huxley-Parlour is pleased to announce “Rage Comics“, an art presentation featuring the artist duo, Shir Cohen and Olivia Sterling. On view at Huxley-Parlour’s Maddox Street space until September 02, 2023, this groundbreaking exhibition of works offers a raw visual effect reminiscent of a slaughterhouse or butcher shop, where the two artists attempt to focus their individual rage through the language of flesh, meat and art.
This exhibition takes on a particular propensity where, in a similar artistic approach, the artists set out to externalize their anger through well-known cartoon characters from the early 2010s. The title of the exhibition was inspired by a common goal of the two artists, their need to direct their anger towards a comic goal. Shir Cohen and Olivia Sterling chose his digital comics, “Rage Comics“, whose characters are prefabricated cartoons known as “Faces of Rage”. The drawings in the animated series are crudely depicted and follow simplistic scenarios mostly expressing rage, a feeling our contemporary artists seek to unleash.
Shir Cohen and Olivia Sterling share a common interest in the use of cartoons and memes within bitter communities present in digital spaces, particularly in the realm of the manosphere. These digital groups, behind an innovative sense of humor, have a well-defined and fixed vision of the world, based on concepts such as genetics and racial and gender stereotypes. Initially used to represent cultural elements transmitted by imitation, memes today have a different connotation, referring to a culture of shared digital images, sometimes simplistic or reductive, easily manipulated thanks to the addition of text, and evolving freely in various political, social, trivial, absurd or humorous spheres. In a unique artistic approach, Shir Cohen and Olivia Sterling explore the complex position of memes, oscillating between humor and hatred.
The two artists are interested in what happens to memes in the hands of individuals guided by sexist and racist ideologies, and to what extent the visual language of this cultural element might enable such ideological propagation.
Shir Cohen gathers stories and incidents related to the experiences of tyrannized groups, particularly Jews and ethnic minorities in their own sense of disparity. He presents hybrid animal and human beings that distort themselves along the walls of the Huxley-Parlour gallery. These creatures, exhibited by Shir Cohen in the simplistic, low-resolution visual language of the online image economy, are grounded in the culturally assured symbolism of the image. He associates humans with certain animal groups, the better to protect them from meme culture and phrenology.
Olivia Sterling explores the duality of blackness and whiteness in contemporary Britain through her artwork. Her paintings use humor and burlesque to critique racialized perceptions, including the semantics of race. She complements Shir Cohen‘s work by inverting these dehumanizing metaphors through her series of paintings. The artist’s compositions depict characters who disturbingly transform human appearance by grinding meat into sausages. In a humorous and gory theatrical style, Olivia Sterling uses these imaginary spaces of butchery to give shape to violent fantasies linked to race and revenge.
While Shir Cohen creates beings that hark back to past ideologies, seeking to transform marginalized people into animals to better protect them from violence and injustice, Olivia Sterling turns the perpetrators of these stereotypical ideologies into mere pieces of meat to be played with, even consumed.
“Rage Comics” by Shir Cohen and Olivia Sterling addresses contemporary conversations around humor, angst, shock, violence, expression and suppression. The language of expression used by the artists in this groundbreaking exhibition is borrowed and subverted from online spaces, which are often vectors of hatred, violence and terrorism. In this way, they channel their own inner rage and opposition to empire, which they may share with communities, Incel groups and other far-right subcultures that swarm online.