RANCID: Solo exhibition of Xanthe Somers
Galerie revel is pleased to present ‘RANCID’, Xanthe Somers' first solo exhibition with the gallery and on French ground. In this new body of work, Xanthe Somers continues to examine the haunting presence of everyday objects designed with the intention of serving their owner.
Resolutely political and provocative, while blurring the boundaries between works of art and functional design pieces, the show includes ceramic sculptures of various shapes and scales consisting of a very large three-bulb lamp, a floor lamp, a medium lamp, a small candelabra and two large vases. The pieces feature both pattern and text with bittersweet titles such as ‘Sour Milk’, ‘Everything Has Gone Rancid’ and ‘Burnt Toast’ as an exploration into the RANCID side of objects.
Born in 1992 in Harare, Zimbabwe, Xanthe Somers is a ceramic artist based between Harare Zimbabwe and London, UK. She studied Fine Art (Hons) at the University of Cape Town and then progressed into an MA in Postcolonial Culture and Global Policy at Goldsmiths, University of London where she graduated with a high distinction.
Her practice is informed by the politics of aesthetics, and more significantly how the colonial history in Zimbabwe continues to manipulate aesthetic values. Her work as a ceramic sculptor looks at reimagining the everyday and examining the subtle treason of objects. Through a sense of play, bright colors, mocking tone and exaggerated shapes, the artist tries to challenge the prevailing ideas associated with normalcy, beauty and refinement found in everyday, functional objects.
Somers states 'We create utilitarian objects to serve us, but ultimately these object tend to outlive us. These objects are not neutral- they carry within them the ideology in which they were created- and this legacy is not silent- they have an active and persuasive influence on our day-to-day and shape our visual reality.’
‘The title RANCID refers to things that have gone wrong or turned sour. It invites us to get rid of old ways or old ways of thinking and adopt new ones.’ Says Somers.
For the artist, domestic objects are not inert but on the contrary inform us about the complexities of an era. Each object is imbued with ideas, thoughts, doctrines, judgments, such as the sense of aestheticism or value. In her own words: ‘I seek to reimagine domestic objects to explore the ghosts that live with us in our daily lives. The ghosts I speak of are the ideas that we imbue into objects, artworks, or systems when we create them; they are not inert - they are made with a purpose.’
In RANCID, Somers draws analogies between this intention to serve impregnated in the objects and the legacy of colonial enterprise in Zimbabwe.
As she explains: ‘The everyday objects we surround ourselves with are beacons that speak to the times in which they were made - they tell us stories about politics, resources, cultures and their motivations. Living in Zimbabwe, I wondered how my ideas of refinement, value, and beauty were prescribed to me by oppressive colonial narratives, and their persistent presence in objects that have outlived their creators. Through a sense of play, I hope to challenge my ideas about what is both normal and beautiful.’
The exhibition is on view throughout the month of June by appointment only at the showroom of the gallery in Bordeaux, France.