PRINT May 1992


“HOPE” IS AN ACRONYM formed by the union of the first two letters of the surnames of Georgie Hopton and Simon Periton, who began to collaborate in 1988 when both were students at St. Martin’s School of Art in London. The initial impetus was to work together because of shared interests and influences, but their collaborative efforts quickly shifted from a means of producing work to the more difficult position of establishing a space for critical reflection on the process of production itself. There is a sense in which Hope, as a dialogical opposite of anarchic nihilism, enacts a similar sign of meaninglessness through the presentation of kitsch. But the cliché functions not as negativity, not as a lack of “art,” but, instead, as a utopian “fullness.” Sometimes, Hope is a crucible for the creation and enactment of various personae; the title of its first gallery exhibition—“Seeds of Hope”—seems to point to the relaxed sense of collaboration enjoyed by these two artists, ever in the spirit of a kind of “abundance.” It is also true that there is the danger of Hope’s profusion of cliché-constructions, collages, and the like dissolving into thin air, inconsequentiality, indifference. But Hope’s lightness and informality are typical of a widespread attitude that has taken hold of younger artists in London. It may be a bizarre form of recycled punk resentment made to appear as torpor. What better representation of social life for the eternally marginal? Hope’s strongest work takes place outside the gallery, as if to say that torpor has yet to be defeated by the world at large. A 1991 project for Frieze magazine consisted simply of a photograph of two cherries emblazoned with the logo “Hope”: an icon, no doubt, of cloying sentimentality. In a similar vein is a more enigmatic work—reputedly done in collaboration with one Bipasha Ghosh (but do we know the identity of Bipasha Ghosh? Only that the name must be identified with that which is not of “British” but of “colonial” origin). The work, titled Olde World, is a gigantic computer-generated painting of Tower Bridge as it would appear if suddenly overgrown with ivy. It is at once a hysterical and an innocent display of verdant splendor and all that means to the “British,” and, through its insinuation as “faux” Tudor, a harbinger of more sinister social flux. Once again, the display site is located in the Docklands district, an area of intensive urban “renewal” on the south bank of the Thames that has become a living monument to the social crimes of Thatcherism. The work might have been conceived originally as little more than a stunning burlesque; but as the recession has all but eliminated property speculation throughout all areas of London, the image of Tower Bridge choked by its own heritage is loopy enough to be taken as a prospectus for the next wave of nostalgic property development.