Are you a giver or a taker? Well, Edward Thomasson thinks the line between the two might be a little blurry. In this show of five drawings and a single video, the young English artist tries to unravel the threads of how we use each other, how the barrier between abused and abuser is shaky at best. Things get messy.
The five drawings are simple line-and-watercolour images of people touching in different ways. There are people snogging on a couch, there’s a group hug, some people being ridden and five fully dressed people standing on a guy lying on the floor. The drawings look like something from ‘The Joy of Sex’, just without the joy, or much of the sex.
The film upstairs looks like an instructional video: starkly, grimly, but cleanly shot, like you’re being taught how to sign on at the Job Centre without upsetting your adviser. There’s a neat little narrative three-way happening. Woman is mistreated by boss, boss goes home to be stood on by boyfriend in smart shoes, woman then volunteers to let massage students practice on her. Both are having people apply literal physical pressure to them, but who is exploiting who? Is the volunteer getting a free massage, or is she just an object, a guinea pig? Is the boss submissively letting someone stamp him down, or is the stamper doing it at the behest of the man?
The song spells it all out. ‘Balance me’, they say, over and over again. The general idea is that relationships are tricky, complex affairs and interdependence goes both ways – maybe the person getting used needs to be used. Maybe we all need that balance. It’s murky and it’s difficult, just like human relationships.
The show leaves you walking away feeling uncomfortable, questioning how you behave in all of your relationships, it just doesn’t quite tie up into a neat aesthetic package.