Jock Mooney, ' Who Are You and What Do You Want'
23rd September 2016 - 20th November 2016
The Gallery, Ocean Studios, Factory Cooperage, Royal William Yard, Plymouth
In ‘Who Are You and What Do You Want?’, Jock Mooney presents an elaborate tableau of sculptural objects, drawings and sound, that functions as a personal reflection on the artist’s life. A central metaphor for emotional choice in this new body of work is the congenital genetic disorder of diprosopus (animals and humans born with two faces), one of the most famous examples of which are the so called Janus cats, named after Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and transitions, who is usually depicted with two faces, looking to the past and the future.
Referencing the edible tableaux associated with various religious festivals, Mooney displays these ideas in large cake-like forms: a two-faced Janus cat head, a torso with multiple sexual characteristics, the severed head of Marie Antoinette. These grotesques are in part inspired by eighteenth century gingerbread biscuits produced for Saint’s Days in many European countries. Coloured brown and beige – the colours of gingerbread, cake, chocolate, or excrement – these votive figures are held aloft on highly coloured pompoms, garish bespoke fabric and gaudy domestic furniture.
In addition to the objects, a set of highly detailed small-scale drawings feature. These are Mooney’s most complex drawn works to date, raising a feeling as of ‘portals to nowhere’, nightmarish landscapes and visions of isolation and failure. Permeating the exhibition is a hushed audio accompaniment of choral recordings that act as a soundtrack to the works. This song cycle features original compositions by Mooney as well as covers of the first three Spice Girls singles. Collectively, they explore themes of choice and fallen status.
Overall, ‘Who Are You and What Do You Want?’ is an attempt by the artist to balance his feelings of longing and sadness with that of joy, his procrastination and fears for the future with the hope of regeneration and happiness. Unapologetically personal, the exhibition is both visceral and moving, but always, dare it be said, fun.