PROTEST: IT’S ON THE CARDS…
It’s out now! I Shoplift Therefore I Am (2017) by Carrie Reichardt and Bob Osborne is the latest signed,
limited edition artists’ poster print for the flyingleaps project…
I Shoplift Therefore I Am (2017) Carrie Reichardt and Bob Osborne
With the détournement of 50s playing cards there is a questioning of socially given meanings. Once these images were deemed risqué. Now very few would view the ‘artfully posed’ exposure of flesh as anything other than kitsch, coy, almost cutesy. Certainly sanitised compared with the hardcore, graphically exploitative and emphatically ‘real’ porn – that is painfully enacted, clearly abusive – that’s been a driving force and is now a ubiquitous feature of the internet and its visual correlatives in fashion and advertising.
That Carrie and Bob, perhaps of an evening with Radio Four on in the background, can pore over these relics of a more innocent age and ‘deface’, reface them with contra submissive, boldly unapologetic slogans – ‘Domestic Extremist’, ‘Unfit Mother’, ‘I Shoplift Therefore I Am’ – seems an extremely healthy, decent and quietly radical thing to do.
This is because, of course, the 1950s and 60s weren’t a more innocent age. It was an age when women’s bodies, their sexuality, were literally and metaphorically in the pocket of male authority. The cards are on the table now, to be openly mocked, contradicted, questioned and co-opted according to taste, politics and proclivity.
Arseholes, bastards, fucking cunts and pricks / Aerosol, the bricks… Of course, long before Ian Dury’s lyric, there was a Dadaist / Surrealist tradition of deploying obscenity as a means of shocking the bourgeoisie, of shaking off familial and societal shackles. It’s a stance, a tactic that the anti-establishment provocateurs probably thought would one day no longer be needed. That libertarian freedom would be the right or at least the option of all people in a classless society. How wrong to fall for that positivist illusion. Thing don’t always get better! There’s a very real danger that hard won rights and freedoms are going to be snatched back.
All Londoners Are Cunts (2017) Carrie Reichardt and Bob Osborne
So, is now a time to unleash ‘foul’ mouths and confrontational images again? To remind people that they need not or should not let themselves be alarmed by a bit of fruity language or cock and clunge because things are happening now that should be considered much, much more shocking. The abomination of food banks proliferating in wealthy countries, grossly widening gaps in income, child refugees, proxy wars, blatantly corrupt governance… And so, again, it’s maybe apt to employ rude and brutish language unapologetically, to confront a slide back into a world where it seems greed, venality, profit from exploitation is back on the cards.