When we are talking about stinging rebukes on social issues revolving around the current status quo and consumerist culture, Sylvie Fleury is the MVP. ‘S.F’ At Sprueth Magers is a retrospective. On Fleury's Art, on gender politics, on Western Art, on Fashion, on world design… on you.
An Immersive manifestation of a lifetime that seamlessly masterfully explores the nexus of modern art in the garments of fashion and tools of consumerism. Through 5 floors of spellbound, Fleury daringly questions the historically male-centric foundations of society through a delicate blend of fascination and detachment, urging us to reassess our perceptions of power within consumer culture. Reflecting the politics of art through contemporary societal behaviours, the show engages on a complex distinctive commentary on when life becomes art interlinking a value system based on perceptions.
Upon entering the gallery space you come across a boutique-like installation with a myriad of different brand shopping bags lying on the floor, challenging the implicit gendered customs and fixations, encouraging audiences to engage in critical reflection about the design of the world. She embraces oppositions and paradoxes to challenge the status of artistic artefacts versus luxury items.
To enter the next room you have to go through a changing room curtain, only to find yourself in a room of a car-racing club. And then you start to connect the dots. Given that the boutique is in the vitrine of the gallery - you are being watched by onlookers - where you retreat through the dressing room only to escape to your own world of ‘unladylike’ hobbies.
Fleury founded her own women-only motoring club; ‘She-Devil on Wheels’, in 1990 after being refused membership to a car-racing club. And the transition from one room to another speaks loudly of a tantalising backdrop of the sentiments, crushing stereotypes on a lingering journey of perception - allowing you to let yourself loose.
And from the messy office setting with the Playgirl, semi naked men, billboards on the side - which you have to admit is quite sexy - again to a minimal, more aggressive ‘superficiality’ on paraphernalia, skillfully subverting the underlying gendered customs and fixations.
Makeup - shoes - chromed commercialism and deflated missiles (wink wink!) in a boutique while you’ve been called an Egoiste. And as you descend into the basement, you unchain yourself and transcend into a mesmerising scenery of gigantic virile science fiction ready to deflower the universe.
The "First Spaceship on Venus", a room full of huge shiny and fluffy rockets adorned with colours and materials traditionally associated with "femininity," deftly to challenge patriarchal underpinnings in the subject of a satirical take on their ‘eternal now’ phallic symbolism.
SF while seems autobiographical it might actually be a mental state. Shopping, glitz, spoiling consumerism which you love criticising but after all you enjoy spoiling yourself with, your sexy unladylike hobbies and the surprise when you descend down under finding huge missiles.
The show beckons the question:
Is it peeking into someone's lifetime or perhaps a timeline of a meeting with a new lover?
Either way this show releases a big hit of endorphins from within.
A testament to the inextricable link between our desires and our perception of art. Fleury renegotiates our boundaries and contemplates how our identities are often shaped by the allure of consumer goods, cultural products and personal intricacies.
‘SF’ is an invitation to confront the complex interplay of our identities unfolding in our contemporary age. A multi floored journey and a collision of worlds birthing a captivating spectacle and an open diary that actually could be yours - or you wish was yours.
September 22–November 4, 2023
Sprüth Magers, London