The Identity of Opposites
A clash of highly objectionable internal conflicts.
The first time we saw Thomas Langley’s works at Unit 1 Gallery | Workshop, they vociferously called attention to an internal conflict the artist is dealing with, where the only possible course of action is a highly objectionable one. Langley uses a very direct language that is initially disturbing, where everything is revealed to us, and the works start becoming meaningful because of their familiarity. The artist visually reports “Buy Mum a House” or “Kill Me Now”. In both cases, we soon realise we are within a system of words which don’t ask questions, but rather are meant to answer them. Langley’s recollections comfort, confuse, and torment his own memory, repetitively dooming him to turn frustration into its opposite: encouragement. This is manifested in works such as “Time”, 2017, where the artist sprays “Super Crappy Fun Time” playfully replacing “Crappy” by “Happy”.
We are left with no other option but to accept the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic idea of them. As Samuel Beckett’s well known “I can’t go on. I’ll go on” from The Unnamable, Langley’s works are rooted in a conflict of morals, ethics, and duty, where the artist’s hypnotic flow of words speaks clearly, helping him understand what he is thinking about. By translating his thoughts into objects, we find ourselves in a a situation in which we are explicitly presented to the artist’s stream of consciousness: “If It’s Shit, Make It Better” or “Must Work Harder”.
Life and work or professional and personal are unified, and as absurd as life is, we both find humour by viewing the artist’s materialised struggle to reason out, at the end of the day “Everything is Totally Fucked”.
Words by VANESSA & MARTIN