At the culmination of his PhD, Jay Kochel presents Exact Fantasies, a series of four tableaux that explore the relationships between fetish, magic and interfacing the body. He uses material metaphors of containment, boundaries and fluidity to incorporate perceptions of purity and contagion. The tableaux allude to phantasmagoria and a Freudian sense of the uncanny, a sense of the familiar made foreign. This sense of misrecognition acknowledges the power of mimetic transformation that occurs through sympathetic magic, giving bodily power to objects that bear no resemblance to the bodies they reference.
This exhibition presents research in progress. As a result of recent fieldwork in Europe this body of work focuses on the magical artifact – reliquaries, voodoo dolls, votive objects, folk magic, juju, ex voto – objects that incorporate human remains or a mimesis of the body. Where there is a material and psychic strategy to harness a spiritual or magical affect. The transference of energy, heat or mana between body and object as a means by which the material world is animated, charged up, and exerts force over people – an exploration of gods in the making.
In Jay Kochel’s Touch Me Gertrude Stein a sparse collection of transparent assemblages is carefully arranged in the gallery: some suspended mid-air, others laid out on the ?oor or placed on a shelf. The artist has cast in clear plastic an assortment of tools, consumer items and accessories, a shining sample of detritus for a future archaeologist of our times: i-pod, scuba-mouthpieces, vibratory massager, thongs, enema-nozzles, foot-pumps and toilet plungers. Spot-lit in the dim gallery space, the objects are presented in seemingly incongruous pairs, joined together or connected by thin plastic tubes. The height of each object corresponds to the body part that would most appropriately interact with it: headphones hang ready for the head, foot-pumps lie in wait for the feet. On first inspection each object is a meticulous replica of its original, down to the engraving of non-slip grips and the glinting texture of screw-thread. And yet on closer observation the forms are not perfect and it is hard to determine by eye if they are hard or soft. The Slumpy bottle and pump is just that, and there is a sense of plastic fluidity about even the best-replicated objects that adds a tinge of the uncanny, as if we are observing a temporary stage in the creation or dissolution of each piece.
I wish I was David Bowie is an exhibition that de-skins the surfaces of the everyday. Objects, video and photography explore the constructions of gender and self by examining the personal objects of intimacy.
The persona of David Bowie the pop-icon icon acts as a focus for our personal wish fulfillment, our constructed self identity from the popular culture surrounding us. A persona which we all construct from interactions with the everyday.
Toys begin as a form of social construction, of context given to us to engender learning through play. A way of relating to the world we are born into. A ready-made meaning that elucidates the world of culture, a script for the skins we wear. By de-skinning these personas, what is left? The unnerving familiarity of something recognisable but not known?
The viewmaster series represents a loss of innocence, a form of nostalgia. I only see a flat world, a half world. The depth of things becomes a surface, a skin. The ways of seeing an exteriority, a surface of things, the skin we put on, creates us, to others and ourselves.