Ceri Hand Gallery is an interesting space, with an impressive, intelligent and trustworthy gallery owner. Previous shows have been clear, witty and appeared to have purpose. Sophie Jung: Learning About Heraldry, on the other hand, is an indirect and confusing collection from an artist who appears to have talent.
This show, although the title openly offers up "heraldry" as its theme, is focused mainly around puns and word play. Jung plays off her family name: calling a work Malo Malo Malo Malo (Lat. I'd Rather be an Apple Tree Than a Bad Boy in Trouble): Mirror Stage which conflates Latin mnemonics with psychoanalytical theories from her name-sake psychologist. The pieces themselves become a part of the word play she so clearly enjoys. Many of the works do not hang from the walls but lean against it, visually reminiscent of wall braces, and seeming to hold up the wall instead of hanging from it. A clear mixture of mediums (from sculpture to video to audio files), and her interest in vocabulary and communication in the modern world, proliferates among everything Jung touches.
Even the press release for this show is a work of art. Written like a modernist short story, it is fragmented in style and content. The language is somewhat incomprehensible and yet rooted in contemporary culture, as though James Joyce was writing Finnegan's Wake for the Facebook age. It won't illuminate the purpose of the artworks, but is worth a read. Indeed it sits in perfect unison with the opening talk Jung gave for Learning About Heraldry's during which Jung faux-rambled from a script on topics from heraldry through to Halloween puns ("What do you say if you come across a spider on Halloween? Wipe it off and say you're sorry"). Put best by a fellow gallery-goer, "If I went to a book reading I'd have said that was great, but it wasn't rehearsed or spontaneous enough to be performance art".
If you skim past this fragmented paperwork, the press release reveals Sophie Jung has had many solo shows at impressive institutions and has been part of group shows around Europe. She has won and been nominated for numerous art awards all before completing her MFA which she is currently undertaking at Goldsmiths. All this shows an impressive track record for the fresh-faced Luxembourg-born artist and suggests that perhaps I have missed something in this show. However the works are not as clearly formed as her previous work (in particular Oh yeah, 'cause I ain't for no one-sided love affair (2013) which was displayed at Ceri Hand Gallery earlier this year), and her awkward personal interaction with the pieces leads me to believe perhaps this show is something of a weak display of her potential. Go and try to decode her language: the puns and word play are so diverse many hours can be spent attempting to decide if there is anything really being said by Jung.
I believe in Ceri Hand, I believe in a strong future for her gallery and I believe that Sophie Jung will have a solid career in contemporary art. I do not believe the exhibition Sophie Jung: Learning About Heraldry is a good representation of any of this.