Wunderkammer: Ludovica Gioscia and Jebila Okongwu, Patterns of Trade

Preview 21st July 2015, h. 6.30 pm

Riccardo Crespi presents the third appointment with Wunderkammer, a new project that is intended to liven up the programming of the gallery with original interventions, hosting selected works or site-specific installations by young or already established artists, from Italy or abroad.

Taking their cue from the very nature and history of the Wunderkammer or Cabinet of Curiosities, in Patterns of TradeLudovica Gioscia and Jebila Okongwu are presenting new works showcasing their personal and somewhat obsessive collections of images and artistic concerns.

Okongwu’s collection consists of banana sculptures constructed from the clichéd, tropicalized graphics printed on banana boxes which he scavenges from local markets and fruit shops. He uses these to comment on the ‘exotic' identity often imposed on him as an artist of African descent. The banana boxes have been shipped to the West from Africa, the Caribbean and South America. They follow the exact routes of current migrational flows and those before of Atlantic slave trading. They also initiate dialogues on the imbalance of global wealth and the polemics of post-colonial trade.

Gioscia’s collection is accumulated with her trademark screen printed wallpapers in which samples of her numerous images are compressed and repeated as two dimensional patterns. By amassing images and patterns she explores cycles of compulsion and obsession and also accumulation and destruction. Both cycles relate to the psychological mechanisms that underpin marketing strategies and our relationship with consumption. Many of the wallpapers printed for Patterns of Trade function as holistic portraits of mega brands, in which the latter’s own waste is re-incorporated within its patterned logo.

For their collaborative project in the Wunderkammer, the collections of these two artists collide and the result is an examination of marketing strategies and the resulting social hierarchies produced within our global capitalist economy. Both artists delight in excesses of choice, accumulation, colour and pattern and Okongwu’s hand stitched banana sculptures are hung next to Gioscia’s layered and folded wallpaper sculptures in seemingly pleasing arrangements. The artists’ techniques of stitching, layering, folding and printing are processes that are required to facilitate mass supply and consumption but on further reflection we realise that there is a very real price to be paid. We are reminded of the darker sides of the exploitation of labour, the dangerous factories of the developing world and of the deceptive marketing techniques implemented by mega brands to obscure these issues.