Trading Places


a rhythm game where players have to stand on a dance mat in the right order shows a pair of scissors and a rock moving up the screen

12ø is in the back room of someone’s house in the middle of a Stoke Newington estate, away from the wind, behind the Dalston strip (which has set the stage for 70% of my getting-drunks - it’s the start post for the night bus obstacle course between Vogue Fabrics and me eating pastry in bed. I’ve had late night heart to hearts in Turkish restaurants there, I’ve fallen out with friends, I’ve queued for sample sales, and I’ve seen one erotic play, lol. It’s my happy hour holiday strip. So, behind that…)

the difference is someone’s house has a smell, something you’ll get to recognise next time you visit. *Real* galleries sterilise their own intimacy / 12ø had vulnerability. I am glad for that, and glad for the semi-formality it allowed me (like we do for you, here at Le White Pube, dress: smart casual, eat: reduced Waitrose scallops, talk: sincere critical babble). I wondered (hoped) the neighbours popped in for sugar and art, so I asked Jacob Watmore (who is 12ø, with Eva Duerden) how proactive they are in inviting the estate to their shows. He said the relationship is good, they’ve had families visit (and dogs), that there’s tea and coffee for guests. They’ve had posters up on the community board in the past and they’re fixing signs outside now so ppl know wagwan. He admitted, though, that most people don’t give two shits about contemporary art and he’s not about to force it on them. Thank fuck :)))

And the show I came to see, Trading Places 2.0, was kind of delightful, generous.

I know curator Joshua Parker had pulled the artists together for his own research, I’d read the Facebook event info and I knew that ‘possibilities of how emerging art practices could survive continuous austerity measures while maintaining critical reflection of the contemporary,’ woz not my cuppa tea. Like, I respect that line but it doesn’t get me hard. And still! I felt like I got what Joshua was sayin, and without having to put any work in… tha impressed me. Lemme explain.

Jammie Nicholas & Chris Dendulk offered takeaway stock imagery colouring-in books. You got manic, smiley laptop users reduced to outlines, and those lines got… druggy, fiddly, wavy. One image was blown up, A3 by A3, pasted, scribbled over. Opposite, you could play on Rosa Nussbaum’s kind-of-essay-video-DANCE MAT-game (I know, wot a dream). As you played, you were instructed ‘to maximise your expected utility.’ EQUILIBRIUM flashed behind left-right, up-right arrows. PERFECT, MISS, MISS, FLAWLESS. The other pieces weren’t as impressing - I mean, I was playing with the research, comfortably, easily, through the colouring-in and the dancing, some enjoyable interrogation - everything else felt a little off limit, which is fine, I’m just needy. Trading Places 2.0 answered my call for drive-thru art, kinda Smart Casual art. I liked it.

gabrielle’s name in glittery font
an emoji summary of a whale, a house, and a tongue