Shonky: the Aesthetics of Awkwardness

Hayward Touring exhibition October 20, 2017 - September 15, 2018

Artist John Walter curates the new Hayward Touring exhibition Shonky: The Aesthetics of Awkwardness​, ​opening at the MAC in Belfast before embarking on a national tour to Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA) and Bury Art Museum and Sculpture Centre. The 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’ and 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. 

In a series of conceptual rooms, Shonky explores this aesthetic across a range of media including paintings, sculpture, video, architecture and performance. These are shown alongside the architectural model and drawings of Inflected Arcade House by experimental architectural duo Arakawa and Gins​, ​who believed that their unusually designed houses with features such as sloping floors, curiously shaped rooms and functionless doors could have life-extending effects on their residents. 

The exhibition is accompanied by a new illustrated catalogue, featuring an essay by John Walter and a contribution by Zoë Strachan & Louise Welsh.


Tour details:

The MAC, Belfast, October 20, 2017 – January 14, 2018

Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dundee, March 10 – May 27, 2018

Bury Art Museum & Sculpture Centre, Bury, June 23 – September 15, 2018


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