Inspired by the above disturbing image of a monkey being prepared for space travel and many more like it, Darren Hayman is one of five artists going by the collective name Vostok5 currently exhibiting in The Outside World Gallery on Redchurch Street. It's a teeny tiny gallery and as you can imagine with the network of five artists, the gallery itself and passersby attracted by the buzz, the opening was a crowded affair. But deservedly so. In fact it was the saviour of a disappointing First Thursday ramble through Viner Street and Redchurch Street.
Of the five artists Hayman's work stood out the most and when looking at the collective's blog it would appear his is the leading voice. The pathos in his humble illustrative paintings is moving. I have previously brushed over this blatant animal cruelty activity, which to be fair is not just another to add to the long list. It is an extraordinary thing to do - send a defenceless creature into outer space. We are such cruel, bizarre beings. The exhibition is worth going to see and you can pick up a screen print from as little as £20 or a framed painting for £90.
Hayman's work reminds me of another animal cruelty outlet that is becoming more common - contemporary art. The most recent example I can think of, one which was completely farcical and represented so much of what I hate in contemporary art, was Shimabuku's My Tortoise Teacher at Wilkinsons Gallery in May/ June (2011). Basically it was a live tortoise creeping around a foot high wooden pen.
The premise seems fine - 'Contemplative and wise are the often fabled characteristics of the tortoise, correspondingly, in the context of the exhibition, the tortoise is emblematic of Shimabuku’s suggestion that we ought to slow down and reconsider our often unconcerned appreciation of the present.' Nice thought I suppose, but there are plenty of other (imaginative and creative) ways to demonstrate this or provoke it without having to place an animal in such a strange environment for people to wander past, peer at, snigger and swig cheap beer over. Oh well.
Votek5's exhibition is only on until 7 September so be quick.