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'Now is Good.' (ne travaillez jamais)

'Now is Good.' (ne travaillez jamais)
6 February – 14 April 2004
“Youth – not a time of life, but a state of mind: a temper of the will; a quality of the imagination; a predominance of courage over timidity; the appetite for adventure over the love of ease.”
Robert F. Kennedy, 1968

Fashion. Rebellion. Boredom. Protest. Ten artists look at the state of modern youth – and at the state of the nation as seen through its young. The artists ask if ‘youth culture’ has changed irrevocably from the political protests and idealism of the ‘60s to the consumerist dreams of today.

Youth is a time when reinventing oneself and remaking the world seem all too possible. It is when our identities are still in flux; when we are most open to new ideas and competing influences. Whilst the 18-30s might drive fashion, music and pop culture forward, they are also the crucible in which new social trends and ways of living take shape, that the rest of society then follow. As academic Geoff Mungham argues, “inevitably, youths are portrayed as troublesome and as a problem category; and yet they are seen as the vanguard of social progress.” The exhibition asks if, today, this vanguard lies between a countercultural rebellion and consumerist conformity

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Image: Vinca Petersen
‘Riot Boy’
C-print on aluminium
Sarah Baker presents an alarming seven-foot tall, three-dimensional photographic self-portrait. Dressed head-to-toe in cleavage-enhancing, jaw-dropping Versace, and gazing confrontationally down at us, Baker works towards what might be called the ‘consumerist sublime’.   *
Image: Sarah Baker
‘SB’, 2003
Lambda print
Sam Dargan’s paintings depict a race of faceless archetypal salarymen and white-collar office drones, unexpectedly fighting epic struggles against nature or in absurdly anguished situations.   *
Image: Sam Dargan
‘The wicked, The Wounded and The Weak’, (triptych detail), 2003
Oil on canvas
Leah Elsey and Sonia Uddin picture themselves as soixante-huitards, collaging themselves into archival images from the political flashpoints of the late ‘sixties. The artists recreate inspirational and iconic images of youthful rebellion experienced by their parents’ generation and denied to their own.   *
Image: Leah Elsey and Sonia Uddin
‘Prague 1968’, 2003
Xerox cut and paste

Tanya Fairey shows elegiac paintings of her friends at play. Fairey’s characters are transformed through memory into delicate washes of translucent colour, inhabiting an idealised world of poetic glamour. As fellow artist Paul Graham remarks, “the night is when young people own the city.”

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Image: Tanya Fairey
‘Fiona’s Sisters’, 2003
Acrylic on canvas

Kim Merrington’s monochrome wall painting recreates a prelapsarian world of 1950s teen parties and moral dilemmas. Her characters inhabit a world whose values are metaphorically as well as literally black and white, and “live in a place… where it is always wonderful and everyone is endlessly happy.”

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Image: Kim Merrington
'Bedroom Culture', 2001,
wall painting, courtesy Domo Baal
Pat O’Connor recreates images from advertising and entertainment to play with their original meanings, creating something unbelievable about things in miniature that encourages a more child-like line of questioning: the basic desire to understand how and why something was made.”   *
Image: Pat O’Connor
‘Love My Job’, 2000
Vinca Petersen’s photographs document the lives of travellers and squatters – the last countercultural youth groups. Her images reveal scenes of pandemonium and paradise – from bucolic landscapes (illegally occupied) – to the city on fire, captured during anti-capitalist riots.   *
Image: Vinca Petersen
Jonathan Pollard’s hallucinatory, panoramic lightboxes resemble postmodern re-takes of Manet’s ‘Bar at the Folies Bergère’. Picturing modern life stripped of its illusions, Pollard’s characters inhabit cavernous palaces of corporate leisure and entertainment.  

Tomoaki Suzuki’s exquisitely carved limewood figures are portraits, which reveal seemingly nothing of their sitters’ inner lives. Sporting impassive expressions and uniformly clad in the casualwear of middle-class twentysomethings around the globe, his sitters react to what novelist Douglas Coupland calls ‘consensus terrorism’.

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Image: Tomoaki Suzuki
‘Andy’, 2002,
Limewood and paint, courtesy Corvi-Mora
Mark Titchner explores the propaganda and political battles of the early 20th century. He explores the transformation of politics into aesthetics, and vice versa.   *
Image: Mark Titchner
‘Bedtime for Necromancy’, 2003
DVD loop, courtesy Vilma Gold