Putting on an event during a global pandemic is a challenge for anyone in the world in 2020, but for London-based artist Elliot Fox, creating an exhibition that requires both emotional and physical engagement has provided a much-needed antidote to what's been a digital-heavy and socially-distanced year.
Idol Hands is the name of Fox's new multi-medium show in Southwark, South London, which repeatedly uses visual and verbal iconography to offer up new ways to take in his art. There's never a dull moment in the multi-sensory experience, which sees Fox using kinetic sculpture, digital paintings, Braille and sign language throughout the exhibition (plus an accompanying Idol Hands publication), with the addition of morse code also supported via a sound installation.
The way in which Fox makes these elements intersect is intentional, with the exhibition exploring nature, industry and technology's relationship through the pieces. Suggestions to dance and rave culture flow from Elliot's use of colour and reflection, as well as the exhibition's custom lighting effects and accompanying, techno-laden soundscape. The repetitive nature of the morse code merges naturally with elements of dance or rave music, with Fox wanting to help the viewer "transcend the physical exhibition space and be transported into a hedonistic memory."
The industrial influence behind his work is amplified by repetition throughout the exhibition, with the mixed-media artwork's construction of printing, welding and metalwork providing visual, haptic-heavy evidence of this. That industrial repetition is also heard in the exhibit's soundscape. "It's the noise that says to you 'Keep Working!' as much as it does 'Keep Dancing!'" Fox says. "Once industrialism dissolved that void was filled by these subcultural movements, and the exhibition's title, Idol Hands, directly references the space between those two worlds."
Providing something physical to interact with throughout the new show was a key motivation for Fox, with the main objective of the show aiming to challenge the way in which people consume and interpret language. "I spent a lot of time considering how people will engage with the works and how that engagement could be heightened through physical interaction," he says. "In this sense, I believe that the physical interaction that occurs between the audience and the work leads to a more active and intimate relationship."
Fox also integrates nature alongside the heavily industrial aesthetic through the portrayal of flowers in his paintings. Referencing his journey to London from his upbringing in Cornwall, Fox aimed to "have the natural and the technological mimicking one another until the lines are completely blurred" throughout Idol Hands, curated by art historian and writer Hector Campbell.
Get a closer look at Idol Hands below, which is showing at Platform Southwark, 1 Joan St, South Bank, London, SE1 8BS, Monday - Wednesday by appointment only, Thursdays, Fridays + Saturdays, 12 - 6pm. Head to platformsouthwark.co.uk for more information.