Catherine Biocca: Kids’ Room

29 April 2022 By

greengrassi, Kennington

28 April – 5 June 2022

Catherine Biocca’s new exhibition Kids’ Room opens in a playful way. Deep Tissue 3D (2022) is a sculpture made with different hand-sewn cushions: a drinking glass, a stomach, a big pink foot, a large ear. Here, lying on the floor, these elements become abstract and absurd. The large ear is adorned with a small earing that says “my mom thinks I am special”. Is she the only one?  

The irony continues further along where a large sculpture cloth indicates the entrance to the main space. The curtain depicts a face, its title Dream Team (2022), seems to refer to those wonderful alliances, the ones with whom we believe we can change the world. Once inside the main space, three main feminine sculptural figures dominate the walls. They are made of laser-cut plywood pieces joined together to create highly individual characters. Monumental and anthropomorphic they seem to converse with each other, like in a theatre. The sound of their voices resonates across the space — a deep beat reverberates. 

Four floor speakers transmit the sound, which seems to be one voice but in fact there are three different ones.  I hear sentences intermittently separated by a sound which often comes at the end of a cartoon. The interlaced screaming contributes to a sense of anxiety. “There was something I wanted to talk to you about”, says one voice empathetically, “I want to know earlier on when you are not getting supported”, says another. Immediately extended by the response “you haven’t been listening to me”, “that’s how I felt!”, and a final, decisive, brutal “you suck!”. Like a chorus of recommendations, these looped sentences could be the ones you exchange in any relationship. Some bonds – romantic or professional – often require explanations, clarifications and justifications. Here they seem like a list of made-up sentences to prepare someone to a grand finale. Romantic or professional? In the sombre years we live in, I can’t help but think of all of those who lost their jobs during the pandemic, often made redundant over Zoom. Claustrophobia replaces irony, we enter serious play. 

On the floor is the video animation Deep Tissue 4D (2022), the title refers straight back to the first sculptural cushion-like work at the entrance. In the video bodily interiors, lungs, liver, intestine and brains are superimposed upon an image of a romantic countryside sunset. A curtain floats almost across them creating a visual link with the Dream Team suspended across the room. Cartoon images of characters populate the video – I recognise Disney’s Captain Hook and his crocodile, a phantom from my childhood.  

Finally, a set of five drawings hung on the back wall Vandalisms I, II, V, IV (2022). Referencing how furniture was left out in the streets of Rome, where Biocca has recently moved. In one drawing two plastic chairs face each other, a piece of wood carefully balanced on them. It seems to represent the complexity of a relationship, standing on dualist schisms and the constant balance of words, acts and attentions.  From the ones we love, to the ones we must collaborate with, to the ones we must communicate to. How much do we lose when we express ourselves?  

I look again at Gaze 1 (2022) the large sculptural figure that sarcastically looks down at me. A head within a woman’s groin, it is highly sexual. It recalls the ancient figure of Baubo, the humouristic deity known in mythology for having made Goddess Demeter laugh while grieving the loss of her daughter Persephone. Tragedy and comedy come together like in an ancient myth that stages loss – of words, a person, a job, an object, a time in life – with tightness and affect. Visceral and visual memories pervade the show, and, like the subtle engravings on the plywood, images appear and fade away within memory.  Alice in Wonderland, a woman breastfeeding, men holding banners, a nail on a big fat foot, a hand holding a rail, a cartoon, a hammer, a duck. Like vignettes of a story, these images make sense together and apart, they are playful yet serious, addressing and heightening our vulnerability. 

Ilaria Puri Purini
Senior Curator

Image Credit

Installation by the Artist. Gaze 1, 2022, laser cut & laser engraved plywood, 28 parts, 305 × 132 cm. Courtesy of the artist and greengrassi 

greengrassi, 1A Kempsford Rd, London SE11 4NU
Opening Times: Tuesday – Saturday 11am – 6pm
Exhibition Open until 6 June