Open Frequency 2008: Laura Oldfield Ford selected by Cathy Lomax
Laura Oldfield Ford, Savage Messiah Issue 8, 2008. 119cm x 84cm. Pencil, paper. Credit: Laura Oldfield Ford
Curator Cathy Lomax profiles the work of London-based artist Laura Oldfield Ford
Savage Messiah DEMANDS THE ABOLITION OF ALL ZONES!! DESTROY CARTESIAN RHETORIC, SMASH THE VILLE RADIEUSE, starts the manifesto of Laura Oldfield Ford's unique publication Savage Messiah (2005 - ongoing). Messiah is part Situationist drift around the darker corners of London, part Marxist / Anarchist tract, with teenage notebook style drawings, critical theory and of course the all pervasive influences of Ballard and the photocopied aesthetics of punk publications such as Sniffin' Glue.
It isn't an easy read, the imagery may daydream the Brutalism social housing, grafittied walkways and marginalised people of down at heel London in romanticised, slightly soft edged drawings but the text is hard as nails.
'We're done up for a bit of the old ultra, a Bakunist wrecking spree on every gastro pub travesty we can get our hands on. Flick knife activates at sight of swaggering prick whose class background has assured him of lording it status, the dirty jeans and scruffy t-shirt only serve to reinforce it. Laminated flooring, best brawled over IKEA settees. All I want to see, right, is the Clinique counter at Selfridges smashed up with Paul McCarthy abjection, Robert Gober mannequins trashed in a Ballardian make-up counter frenzy...' (Savage Messiah, Issue 8, King's Cross to Hackney Wick)
Savage sexual encounters, reckless drug taking, criminal acts and violence are all woven together and dropped effortlessly into the social commentary, hard politics and critical theory to create a heady cocktail of desire for something other than the consumerism and mediocrity that is currently overtaking British society.
Laura Oldfield Ford (aka Laura Norder) graduated from the Royal College of Art's painting course in 2007. Her large-scale paintings have the feel of Soviet era social realism with added flouro spray paint touches and radical stencilled texts. Their subject matter is similar to her 'Savage Messiah' drawings (the name of which incidentally comes from Ken Russell's 1972 film of the life of French sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska), with heroic depictions of herself and her friends, beer bottles in hand, fighting against the injustice of the state.
Associated with Savage Messiah, Oldfield Ford organises drifts, flag burning ceremonies, mass activisms and other performance pieces in an unconventional extension of her practice. In the 2007 show E8 at Transition Gallery (London) she moved outside of the gallery walls to fly post the surrounding area with drawings and text from the pages of Savage Messiah's E8 Special. 'Yuppies! Get out of Hackney' (2007), 'London 2012 - DEATH to the Gods of Mount Olympus!!' (2007) and 'Tub of Wank' (2007), the posters unashamedly proclaimed to the slightly bewildered neighbouring galleries, designers, architects and residents of the E8 area.
Cathy Lomax, July 2008
Ford is based in London, having completed an MA in Painting at the Royal College of Art in 2007. She has exhibited profusely in the capital including Interior (Hales Gallery, 2008), Fusion Now (Rokeby Gallery, 2007) and Publish and be Damned Archive (Canal on Vyner, 2006). Her practice critiques the ever-changing nature of London and other cities. Her works are directly produced for the street, as well as the gallery. These take the form of both posters on billboards and a 'zine' she has produced for many years titled Savage Messiah. At the start of 2008 a collective emerged as a result of the 'zine' titled WE ARE BAD, whose activities revolve around creating interventions into specific significant locations.
About Cathy Lomax
Cathy Lomax's curatorial interests are very varied; her projects are drawn together by a theme which is generally quite tangible and is often based in aspects of popular or everyday culture. Most of her curatorial work takes place at Transition Gallery which is the space that she set up in 2002 after finishing her Fine Art MA at Central St Martins.
Lomax is also a practising artist; she likes to draw all the strands of her practice together which means she will often make work for projects that she is curating. In her curated shows she likes to mix together emerging and more established artists often combining practitioners from different strands of the arts. Previous projects have included fine artists alongside illustrators, fashion photographers, costume makers etc etc.
The educational background of the artist is irrelevant and she often works with outsider artists and practitioners who haven't followed the traditional art school route. 'I like to relate my curated projects to where thay are taking place and generally avoid traditional 'white cube' style exhibitions.'
Open Frequency keeps you in touch with new developments in contemporary art practice from across the UK. The artists are selected and profiled by leading curators, artists and writers, presenting the work of artists to watch out for over the coming year. Open Frequency represents a forward-looking glance today of the artists who will be setting the agenda tomorrow.