In his latest exhibition at Sadie Coles HQ, entitled Pre-Fall ’17 and open until 6 April 2019 at 62 Kingly Street, Jonathan Horowitz presents a series of new works, spanning video, installation and digital printing, and addressing some of the defining issues of contemporary politics. Extending the threads of political critique, understated humour and allusion to both art history and mass culture that have defined his practice from the beginning, the exhibition stands as an incisive commentary on our current era.
In a four-channel film video called Transfer of Power (Gucci Soul), the artist juxtaposes four video sources that reflect the complex dynamics between power, branding and appropriation. The first shows Kellyanne Conway, Donald Trump’s advisor, wearing a Gucci coat on the day of the president’s inauguration, for which she was criticised on social media. The second and third are from Gucci fashion shows; the former from 2016 was conspicuous for its near exclusive use of white models, and the second featured an all-black cast of models dancing to Frankie Valli’s The Night, seen as an example of Northern Soul – the British appropriation of black American music. The last video shows Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s Apeshit video from 2018, shot in the Louvre and highlighting luxury brands alongside western art masterpieces.
Other works on display include a large-scale vinyl diptych that serves as a continuation of Horowitz’s ‘Coke/Pepsi’ series, a reproduction of the iPhone pop-up menu showing the yellow first emoji in five shades, and a video piece compiling the names of the accusers of Harvey Weinstein. This last work can be found in the centre of a wall in the gallery, appearing as “a minimalist memorial” to the #MeToo movement, with the names of 87 accusers sinisterly scrolling past in credits as if they have starred in a terrifying film.
Each of the contemporary political issues tackled in this exhibition circle back to power—the abuse of power in the Hollywood film industry, the power of conglomerates like Coke and Pepsi in our society, the power of “Trump” as a pseudo luxury brand and more. Horowitz’ use of political critique and understated humour persuasively tie the series of new works together.
Images: Jonathan Horowitz, Pre-Fall ’17, Sadie Coles HQ, London, 07 March – 06 April 2019 | Copyright Jonathan Horowitz, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London | Photography: Robert Glowacki