by Gabriella Liana Flatt
Whenever I hear the word “collage”, I am immediately transported back to primary school and the joys of cutting and sticking in an attempt to create classroom wall-worthy masterpieces. Seeing The Unethical Anthropologist, however, has radically changed these views.
Hidden away in the quiet side streets of Clerkenwell, this collection both expands upon and questions the aesthetics of art. You could say that the exhibition simply revamps what some would say is a simplistic art form, but I was struck by the way the conventional format of collage has been transformed into a gallery-worthy artistic vision.
The collection, curated by Erica Shiozaki, reflects the importance of expressing a narrative through fragmented materials. The viewer is encouraged to push past the mundane to something more evolutionary. This comes across particularly in John Stezaker’s work, with his two portraits showing a man and a woman, their aged faces masked by a sepia landscape. Each canvas suggests the underlying power of memory. Similarly, the art of Elena Damiani is simplistic, yet strangely affecting. Her prints are made on bookplates, each lining the wall in a row as if portraying a story unfolding from the pages of a novel.
The exhibition as a whole takes a mere ten minutes to walk round, but it is worth a linger. The arrangement and use of space is important here; the uncluttered layout of its components made me more appreciative of the art. As an introduction to the breadth of what is on offer in the London art scene, I recommend a visit to this particular gallery. It is a free exhibition that presents an interesting alternative to a great deal of the more conventional art that is currently being showcased in the city.