458 Hackney Road became a shrine to the weird and wonderful this month, as Modern Panic touched down for its annual outing.
Now in its fifth year, the exhibition – curated by James Elphick of renegade art collective Guerilla Zoo – has garnered a reputation for showcasing the most provocative and surreal mixed media work the modern art world has to offer.
This year’s crop of obscurities was headed up by the final sculpture work of the late H.R Giger – stunning physical realisations of his bio-mechanoid life-form designs, including the space jockey pilot from Alien.
Elsewhere, Orli Ivanov’s stark, hybrid sculptures deal with themes of mortality via emaciated male forms and animal skulls, whilst Jean-Luc Almond’s oil portraits distort the human visage into something dark and disturbed.
Charlie Tuesday Gates’ taxidermy provide moments of lighter relief, her pieces alive with twisted humour and charm. Similarly Paul Michael Broome’s fake composition of an electrical health and safety nightmare warranted both a second glance and a wry smile.
Personal highlights were the felt and wool based work of Lucy Sparrow – both her ode to London Be Still My Beating Heart, and the bold satire of It’s Britney Bitch. Stefy Pocket’s Girls From Da Hood documentary photographs of Caribbean ghetto life added vibrancy and culture, and the mythical macrocosm behind Freyja Dean’s Idoll World, a reimagined Pandora’s Box blew me away.
Upstairs a montage of sketches ran from surrealist duo Candykonk, followed by two anonymous pieces featuring a man simulating sex with a dead swan and a woman removing her pubic hair with tweezers. Provocative indeed.
Photography by Martin Simpson