Review: Roxy Topia and Paddy Gould: Got Worms? at A Small View

A Small View: Got Worms? – by Roxy Topia and Paddy Gould
A Small View: Got Worms? – by Roxy Topia and Paddy Gould

Roxy Topia and Paddy Gould: Got Worms?
A Small View. Thursday 21 April – Saturday 21 May 2016

Words and photographs by Patrick Kirk-Smith

Well this is a hypochondriac’s worst nightmare…

Fresh out of Roswell, New Mexico, is a series of work that has nothing to do with aliens. Rather, it is a response to anxiety about the human condition, and various specific human conditions. The collaborative duo met in Liverpool eight years ago and have been taking advantage of their compatibility ever since, in a series of successful residencies and exhibitions. They return to Liverpool with a collection of work created in their most intense residency yet.

After talking to Paddy Gould for just a few short minutes, it was clear that the process these two artists’ engaged in was one that accepted serendipity as a serious thing, albeit within a rigorous plan. The two artists, Roxy Topia and Paddy Gould have spent the last year in what, to many, might seem like an actual nightmare. You know, one of those places that sounds nice on the face of it, but as the reality dawns and the flight gate gets nearer, you start to seriously doubt whether it’s a good decision; one of those places. In the middle of the dessert in New Mexico, USA, the two artists threw themselves into a new world. A world without pop culture, and one with barely a hint of internet.

The work that came out of it is a detached response to the internet, in a way mourning it, and at the same time, enjoying the lack of it. Focussing on the fear surrounding our personal and community health. And while there’s an immediate suggestive level to the work, it gets further from that as you get to know it, more accurately hinting at intestines and the urethra, and other anatomical bits and bobs that social media tries to keep a steady fear around.

It’s important to note that this is in no way a medical comment, and in no way anatomically correct. It’s funny, it’s suggestive, and one piece is called Faecal Transplant (make of that what you will). It’s more a comment on the culture around the subject, using illustrations to play with the artists’ personal take on the internet and printing those illustrations onto generously garish repeat pattern fabrics.

Got Worms? has travelled across the pacific in suitcases and is a retelling of the story they tried to tell in Roswell as part of their yearlong residency, The Recovery Position, focussing on similar themes, but with a much fuller body of work to display them. That’s always the challenge for artists at A Small View, but when it works it makes any artists in there seem like a genius, because there’s no curatorial guise to hide behind, just the quality of the work on the value of its face.

The exhibition, on display at A Small View until 21st May, is a brilliant example of what kitsch can be when it’s kitsch for a reason. This isn’t just shiny stuff looking good. This is shiny stuff telling a tale.