Shorvon & Hunter are the unbridled artists dipping creative fingers into a very relevant pot of projects and currently exhibiting at Maggs Brothers Ltd, book-sellers to the Queen!
This show is the first London show by New Artists (N/A), brain-child of Paddy Barstow and Arthur Hobhouse who propel emerging artists into the art scene through short, sharp shows in intriguing locations that have more of a pull than your standard four white gallery walls. Shorvon & Hunter are rightfully one of NA’s snares. Their work ranges from bronze sculptures mimicking war memorials for a more sombre cast, to an exploration of the demise of newspapers, a series of appropriately retro Polaroids and ‘Facebook Top Trumps’ which consists of 40 cards with profile information of people the artists have never met. i-D online met up with one half of the team following their preview night after-party.
How did Shorvon meet Hunter? About four years ago at Leeds University. We worked on a project called ‘Shadow’ about surveillance, and have worked exclusively together ever since. We come from completely different perspectives, but it seems to work. One piece of work in the show is three self-portraits – each a double exposure of both our faces, using old-school polaroids. You can’t distinguish whose nose is whose, which sums up our work and how we see the value of it. The end result is always nothing we would have made by ourselves; we can’t identify our own hand in it.
You seem to have a tendency towards Polaroids? They do take up most of the show. We have been using old-fashioned peel apart 669 and 809 polaroids that you can’t get anymore. We had a little stash so made a body of work with them, depicting things that are similarly dying or extinct, using an emulsion lift and dye transfer technique, which we love. It’s our homage to a dying medium we are sad to see go.
What was the inspiration behind your bronzes? They are taken from a wider series depicting war narratives throughout history, from Mayan warriors to the present conflict in the Middle East. We’re trying to show man’s innate need for more, his thirst for violence and destruction, through little narrative scenes in chaotic landscapes. They all look similarly destructive, but when you get closer you can distinguish Roman War Elephants from Vietnam and World War II scenes. The idea is that the same pattern is emerging over and over again in different guises.
That seems quite a far cry from facebook; can facebook data really be turned into art? We think so, though it’s not for us to judge how other people view it. It has been fascinating collecting data from unrestricted profiles from around the world – all the information is there, with no one guarding it. From the pictures people upload of themselves, to the fact that Middle Eastern women don’t have many facebook friends – it all sets off questions in the viewer’s mind. We’re not trying to give the whole story, we’re not interested in preaching, we’re more interested in questions than answers.
Who are your contemporary art influences? Filmmaker Tacita Dean, Elmgreen and Dragset for installations and sculptures. Matt Collishaw is pushing the medium he’s using for his photographs and artworks as far as he can; his recent ‘Deliverance’ project at Spring Studios being a good example of that.
What’s in the pipeline? Working with the anti-homophobia football charity, the Justin Campaign. Two years ago we made a performance, taking two gay guys holding hands to a Tottenham match, in order to gauge the response. We’re now turning it into an online project where people repeat this performance and send us their photographs, which we can then build into something. The ultimate aim is to create an environment where homophobia is not acceptable among 80,000 screaming fans, as it currently seems to be.
Shorvon & Hunter are exhibiting at Maggs Brothers, 2-5 Decmber – a New Artists show.
Text: Connie Allfrey