I have to admit that I’m still not sure why Michele Abeles exhibition at Sadie Coles HQ is called ‘World Cup’ with a picture of twelve football players in formation on a green grassy football pitch as its introduction. There are four different, but interconnected series of works, as Michele Abeles manipulates photographic images to turn the world on its head as she explores gender, power and psychology in the modern world. Perhaps that is the link with the title?
Many of the works just have numbers as their titles as she turns the tables on the male-female relationship by, as a female artist, taking black and white photographs of anonymous white well-dressed professional men of different ages on their way to work, which are then recorded and codified like books in a library or index cards in a catalogue, while in others she blows up photographic images of people walking in the street and adds layers of paint and acrylic into which the original images gradually disappear.
Continuing to turn the world on its head, collage constructions set in traditional frames covered in artificial crocodile skin or gilding have titles in Latin derived from the scientific names for natural species in Florida as an interpretation of the stuffed animals and male symbols that men have in their man-caves at home or work, while, entirely different, Monet’s waterlilies are called into use along with clocks, representing those ubiquitous artworks that no-one ever looks at behind the reception desks in the city offices that our men are walking to. What they do see is the clock – the most important part to check arrival on time – (or in some offices the time in various cities across the world), but in reality totally un-necessary in the modern office when everyone has a watch and/or a mobile phone. So, who are the clocks for?
The world indeed has been turned up side down.