Entering the gallery the first thing we see are the words ‘I know you are but what am I’ written in neon across the back wall. It is a disconcerting greeting and, as we go on to discover, the prevailing characteristic of the show is that it is highly elliptical. Visually the work is lovely but it is fundamentally concerned with drawing attention to the nastiness inherent in the capitalist system.
One Piece of Silver is an animated figure falling through the air. It looked to me at first sight as if it was the work of Rodin in an angry mood. We are told that it’s made of silver which has been contaminated with aviation fluid. The name Judas has become synonymous with a betrayal for financial gain, that is thirty pieces of silver. But there also seems to be a reference here to the greed of Boeing, who hoped to make billions and obtained their safety certification through false pretences, a business ploy that resulted in several hundred deaths.
Net Realisable Value (NRV) is also about death. The lovely row of figurines look as if they are ancient artifacts which have been dredged up from the seabed by archaeologists. They are individualised, for example two of them are visibly pregnant. In fact they commemorate the deaths of fifteen teenage girls who were drowned off the coast of Italy, thought to have been trafficked from Nigeria by the sex industry. Grail is an encrusted chalice which, like the figurines just discussed, looks as if it has been buried for centuries. In fact it is engraved with trading information. Whereas in Arthurian legend the Holy Grail could only be pursued by the purest of heart, now it has become the province of Wall Street traders.
Some of the work though is light in touch. People who’ve pissed me off include the Kardashians, almost all of her friends, and Pol Pot. But a white office cupboard in the corner spews out a mass of tickertape with the names of war criminals.
As the artist comments: ‘it is a visual display of a mind at boiling point’. This was the most interesting and provocative show that I’ve seen in a long time. I can’t wait for the next one.
Elizabeth Eade is at Hix Art, 32 Rivington Street, London WC2A 3LX until March 15.