Linder: The House of Fame – exhibition review
Linder – The House of Fame/ A Sensory Gathering
Exhibition and Multi-sensory Experience
March 24th 2018
Linder impresses with both a perfectly convened exhibition and a unique Multi-Sensory Experience morning.
Walking through the large doors of Gallery One at the Nottingham Contemporary on a wet weekend morning is an arresting experience, as a familiar image which is both a part of feminist postmodern comment and punk art history greets you immediately. It is Linder’s It’s a Buzz, Cock!, famously used as the artwork for Buzzcock’s Orgasm Addict and depicting a soft-porn model with teeth-baring mouths over her nipples and an iron superimposed over her head. No matter how familiar that image may be, nothing can quite prepare for the visual impact of seeing it full-scale. And this is itself the mood of the whole House of Fame exhibition convened by Linder – everything, from the familiar (domestic scenes, classical art) to the unknown (exotic worlds, occultism) becomes powerful and high impact. Nottingham Contemporary is always incredible in how it utilises its space, and House of Fame is no exception, its four galleries transformed into ‘houses’ – The House of the Future, The House of Unrest, The House of Rest, and The Abode of Sound. To curate this incredible exhibition, Linder has drawn on her current role as the first artist-in-residence at Chatsworth House, allowing further scope and access to objects which fit into the exhibition with postmodern ease.
The House of the Future is inspired by the vision of Alison and Peter Smithson and their vision of what domestic life would look like in the then-distant world of the future world of the 1980’s. Blending Smithson’s work with Linder’s own – her lace masks (paired with 19th century glasses picked from the Chatsworth House collection), collages, and images of Mancunian cross-dressers – and other visually arresting artists such as Madame Yevonde and the iconic Richard Hamilton. It is a room where the domestic and performance blend until one becomes the other – not just the world as a stage, but the home as a stage. The other houses maintain the mix of past and present, the mysticism and melancholy of the House of Rest – mystical, magical and spiritual, peppered with ectoplasm and otherworldliness – to the agitation of the politicised House of Unrest through a perfectly arranged mix of artists. From Aubrey Beardsley to Judy Blame, from the modernity of fashion (designer Richard Nicholls makes an appearance) to the classicism of Inigo Jones, this is collage writ large, unexpected combinations making perfect sense. Certain images and emblems re-occur fugue like the exhibition – lace, both as a nod to Nottingham’s industry history and as a metaphor for the intricate weaving of the exhibition itself, and snakes, the sensual symbol of Chatsworth House – making subtle connections between the pieces.
The final room, The Abode of Sound, seals the exhibition like a heartfelt kiss at the end of a letter. The mysticism of Penny Slinger’s surreal occultist works sit with Linder’s tambura as sound emanates from the walls, while Don and Moki Cherry reign over it all, their works covering much of the Abode of Sound. The room oozes with Linder’s passion for her subjects, something which is made further evident at the event created for the exhibition, A Sensory Gathering.
The gathering opens with Sam Thorne (director of the Nottingham Contemporary) in discussion with Chatsworth House director Kate Brindle in a conversation which opens up all of Linder’s absorption into her role as artist-in-residence at Chatsworth House, living in the local village of Enser and being ‘seduced’ by the house. Awakening further senses is the artist and perfume expert Paul Schultze, who gives a fascinating talk on the role of smell in art and the wider world, handing out evocative fragrances and playing a piece of sensory music he has created inspired by J.G.Ballard’s The Crystal World at the same time. Schultze is interesting, impassioned and genuinely educational, throwing those of us is Nottingham Contemporary’s atmospheric downstairs space fully into his world. The Gathering ends with Linder herself in conversation with the artist and musician Naima Karlsson – granddaughter of Don and Moki Cherry and archivist for their estate. Linder’s enthusiasm for the Cherry’s works plays off Karlsson’s readings from Moki’s unpublished memoir, once again providing a beautiful and complete insight into their world. No matter how well artistically educated one might be, I would defy anyone to say that have walked away from The Gathering and not learnt anything. The whole morning was a truly unique experience. Walking back up the gallery steps and outside into daylight, it feels like stepping back into another dimension. For a few hours this weekend, Linder and her array of guests allowed us to completely step into her dizzying, provocative and utterly fascinating world.
House of Fame, convened by Linder, will be running at the Nottingham Contemporary until June 24th.
More information on the exhibition here.
All words by Amy Britton. Find more at www.louderthanwar.com/author/amy-britton or via twitter @amyjaybritton