Two things seem to have initiated a shift in how art is perceived by an audience and the expectation of what art can be and how art needs to function: The abhorrence of Gilbert and George’s current exhibition ‘Banners’ at White Cube and the fact that Assemble have won the Turner Prize.
For Gilbert and George, whose work once instigated a degree of debate and thought, their out is now reduced to the most banal of messages; likened to inane scribblings in a school toilet. As such, it’s very difficult to respond meaningfully or pertinently to the exhibition, as your relationship with the body of work can only be palpable to the quality of it’s content – If it’s layered, multi-faceted and demands various levels of engagement, then great, but as the art of Gilbert and George now functions at face value, then only a face value response is required. But then, perhaps this is just a logical conclusion to the pre-conceived ideal that art’s ability to communicate relies on the instigation of thought processes.
In light of Assemble brilliantly winning the Turner Prize, perhaps a shift in expectation has been initiated. Perhaps art has a practical capacity that directly improves and enriches day-to-day life, and that is thoughtful to the needs of communities and strives for wider outreach programmes. Perhaps it is steeped within the basic fabric of society, rather than on the outside attempting to challenge or disrupt. Is Assemble art? Perhaps, perhaps not. But it’s about a million times more intriguing that Gilbert and George’s new offering.
In light of this, I reflect on my current project ‘Perfume as Practice’. I have always said that my work is always about finding alternative functions and solutions for everyday objects and pre-conceived notions, thus enriching and enhancing our understanding of the physical world. But more that that, I would hope my art de-constructs the context around objects; removing the fragrance industry from perfumery, for example, allows perfume to be honest, personal, and bespoke – offering a platform for creative activity. Essentially, I wish to take products and use art to bring them to a direct real and communicable level, which I hope is a real and direct way of approaching creative practice.