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Shonky: the Aesthetics of Awkwardness

Guest curated by John Walter

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We’re thrilled to be bringing the Hayward Curatorial Open to Scotland for the first time, staging a major group project curated by artist John Walter in our galleries at DCA.

This exhibition aims to explore the nature of visual awkwardness through the work of artists and architects Arakawa and Gins, Cosima von Bonin, Niki de Saint Phalle, Benedict Drew, Justin Favela, Duggie Fields, Louise Fishman, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Kate Lepper, Andrew Logan, Plastique Fantastique, Jacolby Satterwhite, Tim Spooner and John Walter.

Shonky is a slang term meaning corrupt or bent, shoddy or unreliable, standing here for a particular type of visual aesthetic that is hand-made, deliberately clumsy and lo-fi, against the slick production values of much contemporary art. The exhibition proposes a more celebratory definition of ‘shonkiness’, showing how it can be used for critical purposes in the visual arts to explore issues including gender, identity, beauty and the body.

By drawing together artists and architects whose work has not previously been exhibited together or discussed within the same context, Shonky will allow for new ways of thinking that privilege shonkiness over other aesthetic forms that have dominated recent visual culture. 

Shonky is the fourth in Hayward Touring’s series of Curatorial Open exhibitions, working in partnership with DCA, the MAC, Belfast, and Bury Art Museum and Sculpture Centre to choose and develop this ambitious proposal. This is an initiative that places collaboration at its heart, whilst aiming to nurture curatorial talent and to expand the parameters of the contemporary curatorial landscape.

Our guest curator John Walter lives and works in London. He is an artist and academic working across a diverse range of media that includes painting, video and installation. He studied at The Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art at The University of Oxford, The Slade School of Fine Art UCL and recently completed a PhD in the Faculty of Architecture and The Built Environment at The University of Westminster. His work is held by a number of public collections including The Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool and The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Recent exhibitions include The Zany Capsid (Hardwick Gallery, Cheltenham 2017); Essex Road III (Tintype Gallery, London 2016); Alien Sex Club (Ambika P3 London 2015); Courtship Disorder (White Cubicle Toilet Gallery, London 2015); and Turn My Oyster Up (Whitstable Biennale 2014).

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