Ellie Hoskins: “Everything! Is! Futile!”

OUTPUT, until 7th August, free

Installation shot of Ellie Hoskins' "Everything Is Futile" show. Two blue figure sculptures are lying on the floor in positions of despair/ exhaustion, there's a text on the back wall on a pink background and on the left hand wall are cartoon drawings

Art “as a mirror” is usually associated with work which is making big points about society, but it can be intensely personal, too. This is what I felt visiting Everything! Is! Futile! – a sharp intake of breath and a recognition that I’ve been here. It’s still a show about the big points of social exhaustion and frustration too – harsh subjects, translated into irresistible art by Hoskins’ wry take.

From following Hoskins’ Instagram I’ve noticed the key role that text plays in her practice, and words are present here on the back wall. I’ve become increasingly interested in visual art which centres text. I look for when it’s carefully constructed to be essential – but in a very different way to when (as in many exhibition notes) it’s necessary to explain the work.

That’s what I find here. My feelings are stirred first and foremost not by the words, but by the sculptures & drawings. Their faces, postures – yep, know that feeling. There’s one face set on what seems to be a pair of wings which exactly reminds me of freefalling, when things feel beyond your control. The text then adds an extra level of embellishment and personality – I can feel Hoskins’ own perspective on feeling – but doesn’t dictate any of this.

Expressing serious thoughts via cartoon-ish figures is a well-established way of taking some edge off such subjects. A mirror can be a comfort, a reminder that you’re not alone – but nobody appreciates a reflection that’s too harsh. Wrapping exhaustion with “the way of the world” in humour sidesteps some aversion to this reality, instead compelling us to look closer and listen to what it has to say. And while I’ve spoken here about my own particular empathy with her message, you don’t need such closeness to appreciate Everything! Is! Futile! – its craft and wit let its essence speak for itself.

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