Afternoon Delight/ Come Get Some. Jasmine Moston. 22 January- 7 February 2015. Seventh Gallery.
In the main room of Seventh Gallery, embroidery hoops are plastered along the left wall,each carrying their own delicately stitched, punchy sexual phrase. The juxtaposition of twee, domestic craft with sexually explicit material isn’t a new thing (witness Paul Yore and Ghader Amer, or Google search ‘cross stitch porn’ and you’ll turn up more than just high resolution images of crafted puppy dogs and the English countryside) .
Despite the Etsy-esque look of Jasmine Moston’s creations, they rise above the notion of the work as a single consumable object (though each work is for sale, for between $100 and $160.) When placed alongside one another in a collection, they do create something greater than the sum of their ‘parts.’ Pun intended.
The works are solely word-based, and the theme is the language of sex. ‘Take me downtown,’ ‘‘Come get some’ ‘Pussy whiskers,’ ‘Can’t get enough seamen’ and ‘CLIMAX’ are accompanied by my personal favourite ‘Boobies ad nauseum.’ The repetition of such phrases brings the theme of sex language into focus. Furthermore, the jarring opposition of content and medium brings attention to the nature of what is being said. The approach, like the phrases themselves, is playful. This is not serious, violent or self-important ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ sex; this is silly and playful sex.
Moston is fascinated with it. She sews it, writes it and she says it. A recording of a woman’s voice going through a long list of euphemisms for sex highlights the embarrassingly twee, jingoistic language of sex and desire. The exhaustive list demonstrates the painful lengths we go to so as to avoid talking about sex directly, as well as the creative ways we describe the act: ‘Get a leg over, hide the sausage, hide the salami, going balls deep, getting your stick wet, getting your end in, taste the jelly roll…” Moston rejoices in the language of intimacy.
There are moments of tension when the audience expects certain outcomes and punchlines from the works. The artist’s jokes emerge from those golden moments when the expected punchline isn’t delivered and that tension is released in laughter. Moston has the visual joke down pat. The metre-long banner bearing the huge pink, black and gold-embroidered word ‘Sh!’ epitomises her grasp of the visual joke. This is where the sweetness of craft and the force of abrupt exclamation meet. I laughed.
On the opposite wall Moston has embroidered phrases onto paper sheets (‘Trust me with your love tonight,’ ‘Ooh make me ooh!’ ‘Soften and open’.) These are less visually engaging than the embroidery hoops but carry through her idea of the physical thread with which she works as the metaphorical ‘thread of intimacy.’
Moston’s work is fun and playful. The sex-positive message is a relief, for me at least, in a consumerist environment saturated with representations of unfeeling, exploitative and often violent sex.