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Sunday, 20 May 2012

2010 works by Joshua Raffell

 Writing by Laura White Sexy, Crude playful and beautiful are all words that come to mind when I think about Joshua Raffell's work. The Figures and structures Joshua builds and crafts titillate the audience, placing them at the heart of the work's performance. From raw wooden frames to carefully embroidered surfaces, the viewer physically manipulates the parts-such as pulling stings that set off a puppet's hand to masturbate at the speed the viewer chooses to pull. The contrasts set up between materiality and subject matter has the viewer literally swinging between child's play and adult sexual behaviour. In bringing together this charged subject matter and an artist's genuine love and understanding of a craft of fabric and stitch, relies on both a confidence and a material sensibility- which Joshua not only achieves but also has exploited. These are works that question boundaries not only in testing our own prejudices but also in the siting of the work. Each sculpture component can move - be wheeled from gallery to public space, whitecube to high street. The performance in the controlled gallery enviroment shifts to puppet show of street theatre.
 Writing By Rosemarie McGoldrick The Big word about Joshua Raffell's sculpture is delight. There's a child-like devil-may-care, extrovert pleasurein these bright and funny very english art interactions, where queer theory bashes into circus practice. Scaffolds, booths, cubicles and barrows are containers and props for puppets which you choose to animate limply in flagrante delicto step around these sculptures of bodged armatures and stuffed patchwork for the expanded field, because they aren't installations. Instead they are floating islands, Foucauldian heterotopias. They will insist on provoking-shouting out in their Punch and Judy way about what's acceptable. I tried to exhibit one with its felted arsehole pointed at the gallery window into the street. The institution wouldn't allow it. "Walking unnecessarily close to the edge"..." given the ethnic composition of the area" was the way the lawyerput it. But Joshua Raffell's work has nothing to do with championing any neo-liberal zone of freedom. Far from it. Instead, the work rolls its 'R's around the polari lingo, lots of khazis and cartsos, lallies and luppers, having a great laugh.
 Writing By Richard Duker There is undoubtedly something very strange going on in Joshua Raffell's work. It is not that there are no precedents, paul McCarthy being one of the more obvious. What troubles here is the lexicon of materials and the atmosphere it creates.Although it is a world populated by sexual (masturbatory) urgency,Unlike McCarthy this is not the set of daytime TV. Meither does it use the device of repetition or the epic strung out performance. Rather,through the use of 'crude' hand made puppets, it sets this performative excess within a very English domestic as if the id has suddenly interrupted a polite cup of tea - two sugars, and please don't hit me Mr Punch. Although this then results in the abject of the settings they are fabricated with the consideration of an old lady's crochet.This attention to craft places the violation is from within- and yet the viewer is left laughing, albeit a little nervously...
 Writing by Michael Keenan & Keran James studio1.1 Taboos rear up on their hind legs (and in our faces) in this well-past-the-watershed art: what exactly are we looking at? initially perhaps a strong impression of craft, a choice of gay (old sense) domestic fabrics, clearly-defiantly we might say-held together by stitching. (whatever became of invisible mending?) obviously we're in the world of quilts. But then again - the other side of another watershed and they're sculptures, totems, a soft- toy Golden Calf, clownish idiots our size occupying a space that could be playroom, carnival - show how never brothel - the fabric not covering a body but being it, embodied, emboldened exactly to the point of precisely not going too far. when we see, by turning the handle, what is that. We crank them into (real) life, make them do what comes naturally enough, if not normally to puppets or soft toys. What they're up to now is something Satyrical, conjured up by us. Unlike the idol (;Gracieux fils de Pan...') of Rimboaud's 'Illuminations' these figures' erotic energy is conjured up(wards) not by the poet's imagining but by our actions, our curious ungodly touch. We set things in motion without maybe knowing what the result's going to be. We've made the grotesque come alive with the outcome authentic Panic - the unlicensed rite of Pan, right here in the gallery. There were seaside amusement arcade peep-shows just like this - or there should have been...

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