Laura Havlin/ Helen Judge

Helen Judge: Exploring the darker side of the shiny consumer aesthetic

By Laura Havlin

(Excerpt from the Market Project book- find out how to buy it and read all the commissioned texts in full here.)

“I have a curiosity about the things that come from the other economy that’s not as polished,” says Cambridge-based artist Helen Judge. Her new work includes an array of tiny plastic wild animal heads dotted with gems and neatly lined up in rows in a plastic display stand. “I like the idea of them being arranged and looking like little lipsticks. As they are displayed in rows you could pull them out and test them. You could interact with them as a consumer.” Judge is fixated on the dark elements that underpin our glossy consumer-driven aesthetic landscape: a menagerie of exotic and farm animals are given Mickey Mouse ears and made uniform with the iconic red, black and yellow of Disney.

“Disney was clever to use those primary colours. The red and black was also a colour of Hitler’s regime. He became so successful because he dressed his army up in red and black and had them walking in rows. It was a powerful image, and people were enamoured by it – that’s how it became so easy to control people.”

“What has fascinated me is the synthesis between the fascism of the consumer symbol, the logo if you like, and the way its been harnessed by successful dictators such as Hitler. He used those exact same colours in the uniform for his troops. The look of them as they marched helped to seduce the people.”

Laura Havlin is a journalist specialising in arts and culture. She writes for a number of leading titles such as Dazed & Confused, AnOther Magazine and Interview Magazine Russia, and is the UK Contributing Editor for the acclaimed self-published zine Afterzine. Her ‘Vintage Style’ column on  explores the cultural and historical context of a fashion icon of the past.

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