Artist Sophie Cunningham presents Tin Foil Ghost: a new 28-day performance, which subverts the current fashion trend of metallics, leveraging them as a visual stimulus to interrogate the entangled relationship between the global urgency of the climate crisis and creative expression as a resistance tactic.
Toying with elements of the bizarre, Sophie Cunningham’s practice is a critical exploration of the irrational psychology behind the expediency and disposability of Western shopping habits. She creates absurd, tongue-in-cheek sculptural arrangements made from fast-fashion items ordered online, which live as long as a retailer’s return policy of 28 days. She sends these items back with a memento to act as a provocation, entering the artwork directly into the supply chain before the cycle of consumption begins again.
In this newly devised performance for Designed for Life, Sophie expands upon her previous art interventions, considering the relationship between the global urgency of the climate crisis, creative expression as resistance, and the written word as a direct tool to disrupt obtuse and mechanistic fashion production chains.
On the opening night of the performance, Sophie will present an other-worldly, yet eerily familiar metal sculpture adorned in metallic trench coats and accessories. As part of a series of activations across the 28-day period, live performers will traverse the gallery space, parading around in resplendent tin foil knock-off garments. These performers will gradually replace the original garments with their tin foil replicas, leaving behind a vestige of the original clothes.
As each new tin foil garment is added, the original clothes will be packed up and returned to the retailer, along with a message and provocation which, after being read aloud to the audience, will be too packaged for the next parcel recipient. Like a message in a bottle, a method traditionally used by castaways to communicate their distress to the outside world, the artist performs this in reverse, providing those discovering the parcel in a landfill – or perhaps the next customer – with an invitation to respond.
The live performance will be activated on:
This event will take place in the Main gallery, London College of Fashion, 105 Carpenters Road London E20 2AQ
The installation will be available to visit as part of the exhibition, Designed for Life, Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-5pm between 23 November – 16 December 2023.
More about Sophie Cunningham
London-based artist Sophie Cunningham (b.1992 West Midlands) creates sculptures as a critical exploration into the irrational psychology behind the expediency and disposability of Western shopping habits. In a world of low costs, fast trends and carefully orchestrated return policies, her work interrogates the pervasive ways in which fast-fashion brands embody throwaway attitudes of mass consumption to the detriment of everything else.
Cunningham graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 2015 and completed an MFA Fine Art at Goldsmiths, University of London in 2022. She is the winner of the Gilbert Bayes Award from the Royal Society of Sculptors (2023) and was shortlisted for the East London Art Prize at BowArts (2023). She was also invited to speak as a Guest Speaker for ‘Live Conversations: Designed to Make a Difference’ at the V&A (2021). Recent exhibitions include group show Baggage Claim at Staffordshire Street Gallery (2023) and solo show Systems at the Seams at The Stone Space (2023).
More about London College of Fashion
London College of Fashion (UAL) have been nurturing creative talent for over a century. They offer courses in all things fashion, from business to design and fashion curation. With over 60 undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, and 165 short courses, their students are collaborators, and together have the ability to reinvent the fashion industry for the next 100 years.
With their philosophy of open and inclusive education, LCF encourage students to examine the past and question the present. To develop inventive, assertive ideas that challenge social and political agendas. And give them the skills, opportunities – and above all, the freedom – to put those ideas into practice.
As well as shaping the leaders of tomorrow, they’re transforming the industry from within. Through boundary-pushing research, they unite design, science, engineering and technology, to redefine fashion. Their Student Enterprise programmes, business incubator, and industry collaborations form a dynamic network to help enterprising graduates launch and grow businesses.
As they look towards their move to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in September 2023, LCF are forging partnerships, opening up opportunities, and creating connections with east London’s schools, community and industry. Part of East Bank, a new culture, education and innovation development, their single-site campus will spark collaboration, experimentation, and inspiration – all under one roof.
In doing so, LCF will continue to pioneer how we all consume and practice fashion, using fashion business, media and design to shape culture, economics, and society.
And through fashion, shape lives.
The building has step free access and is wheelchair accessible, the talk will be amplified via the speaker system in the lecture hall. We want to make sure that our programme is welcoming and accessible. Please contact us if you would like to discuss how we can support you to attend and enjoy this event. You can contact us via email at email@example.com.
Please note that Blue Badge Parking will be available from January 2024, there are 15 Blue Badge parking spaces at the London Aquatic Centre on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
About the East London Art Prize Events programme
The East London Art Prize events programme is a dynamic, free public programme open to all, which builds on the Prize’s ethos of providing ongoing support, development, and networking opportunities for artists in east London and beyond.
Featuring a constellation of workshops, talks, panels, lates, socials, labs, walks, and takeovers in collaboration with our Prize partners and featuring some familiar faces from our inaugural shortlist of 12 fantastic artists, this year’s events programme celebrates and pays homage to the huge abundance of talent and creativity nestled in east London.
These events have been developed in collaboration with our Prize partners the British Council, The Line, London College of Fashion (LCF), London Legacy Development Corporation, University College London (UCL), V&A East, Whitechapel Art Gallery, and Dulux.
Find out more about the wider programme here.
More about the East London Art Prize
The East London Art Prize is an all-media art prize designed to showcase the talent of artists working and living in east London, with an accompanying event programme supporting artists’ careers and opportunities. The Prize is generously funded by Minerva and Prue MacLeod. Find out more on the Prize webpage here.