Anti-Ad Artist Shows at Blackshed – International Times Review
Down a winding farm track near the historic village of Robertsbridge in East Sussex, lies an unusual gallery …
Behind the black timber doors subversive artwork vividly confronts the curious eye.
Brainchild of curator Kenton Lowe, this little gem of a gallery is not about to show a handful of
twee watercolours depicting local scenery, flora and churches—just yet! As writer Richard Best spoke
of Kenton’s genuinely surprising choices of protagonist that have delivered a ‘plethora of provocative
art works’ … Julia Andrews-Clifford’s current show is no exception.
There has always been something subversive about photomontage—from Dadaists George Grosz and the
Berlin Club polemicizing the medium with scalpel sharp attacks of World War 1, and in 2003 the Chapman
Brothers re-imagining of Goya’s plates from the Disasters of War. Andrews-Clifford is rallying not at war,
but advertising. Particularly the visual trend for ‘porno-chic’ that saturates the pages of contemporary
fashion magazines like i-D, Harpers, Nylon and W Magazine.
Her work, embedded in the zeitgeist, is satiric, and boldly graphic. Julia used to work with the Museum
of Moving Image in New York and also as a film educator at the BFI. It is this background that critically
informs her image-making… She rips, cuts and slices images from vintage magazines which are then
intercut, often with newer pornographic material, before compositing through complex layering techniques
then blown-up to human scale. These anti-ads makes us look again at the imagery that surrounds us,
like ‘Don’t Look Now’, the towering image of a model recumbent on a slab of stone. ‘To me she looked
like a piece of meat so I cut away the skin and layered in images of raw meat; removing also the ‘S’
from the Saint Laurent double spread’.
For international women’s day she enlarged her image to 10 ft x 20 ft, stole out in the middle of the
night with her accomplice and pasted her art work up on a flaking billboard at a major junction. Concurrent
with this there was a huge backlash in Paris to the Saint Laurent campaign and overnight Aint Laurent became
a mission to ban YSL’s degrading posters, where many of the models are seriously underweight.
Unilever has last month launched its first ever ‘Unstereotype Advertising’ campaign, the mission here again
resonates with the artist’s own. ‘I am interested in who is looking at who–whether it is the ‘female gaze’
or the ‘male gaze’ which predominates in advertising, and to particularly reappraise how we view images
of women. Since the Trump inauguration it is interesting to look again at women and their roles; I think we
are headed for another shift in feminism and postmodernism, which we haven’t seen since the late 80s’.
One outcome for this work would be to broaden the palette of gender representation–but /Cut is essentially
about re-humanisation and not commodification and that can only be a positive thing in an increasingly non-
unified and conflicted world order. Guerrilla art and public activism is increasingly necessary to question
the status quo, as it bypasses all channels of media interference, fake news, lies and damn lies that make up
our cultural soup.
The bus shelter takeovers have been taped up by the Police or replaced with the same advertising fodder,
the sort that Banksy commented this week ‘are taking the piss out of you everyday’…
The billboard has subsequently been scrawled with political graffiti–‘VOTE because your worth it’… But
rather than seeing this as destructive to the art work the artist is delighted that the paste-up is perpetuating
the dialogue. ‘We have to give ourselves permission to make these acts of revolt: if not, we might as well
lie down on that slab of stone.'”.
Published on International Times – 3rd July 2017