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  • Fabergé Warland-Edge & Isaac Lomax

Exhibition Review - Open Collective 'Entropy'

‘Nil a Fhios Agam’ - Josephine Maxwell

Exhibiting Chaos //

Entropy and allure are two concepts united by very little. Yet, in a shoebox-sized studio on the cusp of Reading’s Minster Street, an assortment of eleven ‘weirdos’ have married these very concepts. Open Collective, a small troop of young and emerging artists, have unfurled an explorative exhibition of the world’s natural tendency to chaos - through the lens of those who experience it, and are aware of it. Deliciously eccentric, a loosely choreographed landscape meets the eyes of all who step in.

Stark and initially unexplainable is the prevalence of hair - be it in reference to the layered complexities, varied hues, or differing lengths of the many portrayed entropic events. However, look beyond the follicles and you’ll not be looking back - ahead is a myriad of contrast, almost ironically uniform in their ostensibly deliberate lack of correlation. 

‘Hair Transplant’ - Constance Hope

A joint favourite was ‘Nil a Fhios Agam’ (Scottish Gaelic for ‘I don’t know’), artist Josephine Maxwell’s visually unsettled depiction of adolescent suffering. Seemingly evocative of the harsh conformity expected from neurodivergent students, an enraged feline takes on a frankensteinian symbiosis, enrobed by a sketch of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. It’s strikingly reminiscent and the piece as a whole felt akin to a physically semantic bedlam, punctuated by despondent visuals of times tables, failed tests, sketches, and weary notes to self. It’s hideously relatable.

'He Was Allergic to Latex’ - Charlotte Emerton-Rolfe

Straying beyond both hairiness and pastoral cataclysm, this visually cacophonous exhibition is host to plethoras of deeper entropy. A corner of the room presented brutal poignance, offering an all-angle view of what appeared to be the aftermath of a crucifixion. Headless, a tattered latex skin, weighted with a dripping block of scarlet-dyed ice, resembled a scene of leftover - disposed of - humanity. Hung and vulnerable, the form was still pooling ‘blood’ as we looked on. It was grotesquely provocative, one we continue to discuss beyond this article, and made increasingly evident the fact that unregulated entropy can be fatal. There is meaning upon meaning to be gleaned from Open Collective’s showstopping piece, ‘He was Allergic to Latex’ - many unsavoury. This piece carries an undeniable viscerality. 

‘I Still Adornment’ - Cheri Clayton

Entropy is, like space itself, an abyss. Fragmented evidence of what once was, like the atomic composition of humanity, echoes throughout this medium: and one such example is ‘I Still Adornment’, by Cheri Clayton. They offered a portrayal of mechanical history’s cyclical nature, eliciting new purpose from reclaimed ‘found’ objects. The piece itself appeared somewhat unfulfilled and without internality - there was a natural absence that perhaps craved an undefined, material contentment. Though, such is also the nature of entropy. 

When writing this review, we opted in defiance of the entropy to which we’re collectively shackled. Pedestaling the static meaning intended by exhibits, rather than providing holistic discourse about the show as a whole, removed the chaotic power of that entropy. It seemed contradictory that an exhibition of chaos offered such an outlet for muted observation - yet, somehow, these ‘weirdos’ (impressive artists) made it so. It was akin to being in the eye of a storm: surrounded by chaos, the individual remains in relative sanctuary. They will, however, remain aware of its near-pandemonic omnipotence - unable to control it. 

A perceivable disorder has been sought - and achieved - by Open Collective, accentuating their displays of anthropomorphism and serving to remind us of an unrealised chaos within. We left, wildly overstimulated, but inspired nonetheless by the technicolour surrealism that for ninety minutes had tried to explain to us the unexplainable. 

Fabergé Warland-Edge & Isaac Lomax


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