Judy Blame: Never Again at the Institute of Contemporary Art

Judy Blame,  Black Magic , 2015-16, Mixed Media (front) and ID Magazine Commisions, 1982 and 1990 (back). 

Judy Blame, Black Magic, 2015-16, Mixed Media (front) and ID Magazine Commisions, 1982 and 1990 (back). 

Never Again marks Judy Blames first major solo show, hosted at the Institute of Contemporary Art. Blame is a man of many talents: A renowned fashion accessories designer and stylist who has worked with the likes of John Galliano, Marc Jacobs and Rei Kawakubo at Comme de Garcons, Blame is also an Art Director consulting some of the most prominent figures of the music industry, such as Massive Attack and Bjork. 

Blame began creating reactive jewellery in 1980’s East London, as an outcry towards conservative British politics at that time. His signature DIY aesthetic, along with the use of readymade objects was moulded by the abundance of poor materials readily available to him and his desire to distinguish himself from his contemporaries of the 1980’s London Club scene. 

Judy Blame at Taboo by Christoph Nemeth, 1983, Mixed Media. 

Judy Blame at Taboo by Christoph Nemeth, 1983, Mixed Media. 

Blame is a true heir of Marcel Duchamp, rendering the use of found objects with his punk rock attitude, to create cutting edge artefacts through extensive experimentation and collaboration with other creatives. The work exhibited as part of the Never Again show consists of Blame’s clothing, accessories, collage, private commissions and installation work

Personally I am particularly interested in Blame’s collage work which coincides with the golden rule of the medium of collage; Historically collage had emerged as a form of low art, manifesting visually as an assemblage of found throwaway objects and ephemera found in the streets - opposing the supremacy of high art and liberating the processes of artistic creation from the shackles of elitism, by choosing these vulgar objects as its basis. 

Judy Blame,  Couture Clash (#1-25) , 1983-89, Mixed Media. 

Judy Blame, Couture Clash (#1-25), 1983-89, Mixed Media. 

True to his rebellious calling, Blame used images found in fashion magazines and other ephemera to create his Couture Clash collage series; A body of collage work completed between 1983 to 1989 which depicts whimsical scenes of fashion, ecstasy and affluence. The protagonists of these scenes are female characters - models or divas undoubtedly -  who strike fierce poses whilst surrounded by a mayhem of symbols associated with wealth, social status, music and fashion. The finishing touches of these mixed media collages are pen marks on top of images adding a layer of dynamism and rhythm, or an altogether different comedic touch - as Blame drew male genitalia over the femme fatales. 

Judy Blame, 2008, Mixed Media. 

Judy Blame, 2008, Mixed Media. 

Never again also features some of the later collage work of Blame, created from 2008 and onwards. These collages re-examine the female figure, accentuating its increasing commoditisation and sexualisation through the fashion camera lens. In other words, Blame documents the increasing interest of the commercial world towards the embellished-with-fashion-accessories female body, with the overlay of retail signs and price tags - reading ‘fragile’, ‘sale’, ‘sold’ and ‘£1’just to name a few - directly on top of his heroines. The use of bold red, black and white colours evokes the world of advertising, which instigates a dialogue between Blame’s and Barbara Kruger’s practise - both of which examine the idea that identity is socially constructed and fashioned through the consumption of goods. 

Judy Blame,  Art Therapy Rehabilitation Collages,  1999, Mixed Media. 

Judy Blame, Art Therapy Rehabilitation Collages, 1999, Mixed Media. 

Blame’s Art Therapy Rehabilitation Collages illuminate the presence of a social aspect within Blame’s multifaceted practise. The two collages titled Demon Temptations (past) and Focus my life (sobering thoughts) which make up this collection are assembled with the use of individually cut newspaper text cut outs, which narrate a somber tale of doom and a sobering tale of second-chances respectively. The bricolage of wildly variant bold black lettering is arranged chaotically, yet retains a flow, allowing the reader to extract the narrative of the antithetic stories - both of which blend together into the continuous natural cycle of death and rebirth.

Overall Judy Blame’s Never Again show broadens the horizons of what mode of work can be curated within the walls of Art galleries and museums: Blame’s experimental artefacts showcase his cross disciplinary approach towards artistic creation, bringing together a plethora of seemingly distant creative disciplines.The resulting artistic hybrids are curated in a unique, visually stimulating show, which acts a beacon - shedding a light of hope on the younger generations of cross disciplinary artists - encouraging them to keep pushing the boundaries of creative disciplines - embracing Blame’s nonconformist genre-bending philosophy.