Sinead Onora Kennedy’s solo show Cloy is the first show that I have been involved in as an intern at the Talbot Gallery & Studios, and it’s also the exhibition that has struck me the most in recent months.
The incredibly astute investigation into the body, society’s perception of beauty and the subversion of feminine, cutesy niceness with skin-like latex, meat hooks and messy bulges is just incredible.
Sugar and fluffy stuffing bursts out of some of the lumpy body-like sculptures, bringing to my mind Mikhail Bakhtin’s idea of the grotesque in his essay, ‘The Grotesque Image of the Body and Its Sources’. Bakhtin identifies the grotesque as occurring when the ‘closed, smooth, and impenetrable surface of the body’ is broken and there is an interchange or interaction with the outside world i.e. defecation, sneezing, childbirth and copulation, bulging, dismemberment and other bodily eliminations – so much of which is seen in Kennedy’s sculptures and drawings.
Kennedy evokes disgust and discomfort but packages it so prettily in pink hues, pearl tipped pins and piles of sickly sweet sugar. By pairing such traditionally girly tropes with this sense of unease, Kennedy is establishing a new association and challenging those that are pre-existing.
Cloy runs until June 27th at Talbot Gallery & Studios. All images are via talbotgallery.com with thanks