Your body is a battleground. Capitalism wants to own it, society wants to control it. In Kate Cooper’s three-screen installation, female bodies are constrained and manipulated, abused and deformed; they are the sites of war.
One CGI figure, her face bruised and scarred, writhes in a transparent muscle suit that inflates and deflates, changing her body from masculine to feminine, chubby to ripped. She grabs at it, trying to free herself, but can’t. Another figure flexes her jaw against the rubber bands of her braces before trying desperately to pull herself along a moving conveyor belt. The final character spits and coughs blood down her white clothes. A diseased body with mottled zombie skin haunts everything.
This is a panicky, hyperventilating exhibition. Everything feels strangled and tense, the sound throbs, the bodies quiver with fear and anxiety.
You leave with a sense that Cooper sees the female body as a thing that’s under attack from corporations that want you to buy their beauty products, industries that want to shape your teeth, societies that want you to conform.
Those aren’t new or ground-breaking ideas, not by a long shot. They’ve been classic topics in art for decades now. But Cooper presents them in such a hyper-stylised, claustrophobic way that they still hit you hard. If the body is a battleground, this feels like a salvo from the good guys.