Cover image of the review
Rex Veal, *Top*, 2020, antique cotton canvas life jacket, thermal printed tyvek label. Dimensions variable. Bossy's Gallery. Courtesy of Bossy's gallery. Photo: Jordan Halsall

Rex Veal, Summer 20/21

12 Dec 2020
5 Dec - 12 Dec 2020

Before flower power and hippies latched onto the Peace and Love mind-altering substance, LSD was tested as a neuro-medical-military weapon along with psilocybin and other psychedelic compounds. Psychedelics first grew out of the early twentieth century’s plunge into mass manipulation, with Nazi scientists among the first to explore its psychopharmaceutical potential, followed by international drug companies and ultimately the US government. Controversially, after World War II the US recruited former Nazi scientists to oversee LSD tests conducted by the CIA, such as MK-ULTRA and Operation Paperclip, with the intention of using it as a tool of counter-espionage and for the interrogation of Soviet spies.

Given militaries also pioneered the production of durable, ready-to-wear clothing, it seems fitting that Rex Veal’s eponymous solo exhibition is a clothing sale that includes altered army surplus items alongside LSD blotter paper and playing cards from the Big Brother Uncut board game (2001).

Bossy’s Gallery is a small studio room (about 3 x 3 metres) run by artists Spencer Lai and Madeleine Russo at the back of TCB art inc. Summer 20/21 by Rex Veal is the space’s second exhibition and first solo show. It was advertised on the gallery’s Instagram in a video captioned “a collection of garments and accessories in a gallery setting—showroom and sales—no performance.” The video shows insects as though under a microscope. They’re silhouetted against a white backdrop with minimal colour distortion, which recalls the VCR SMPTE colour bar effect and is heightened by the monospaced typeface customary for typesetting computer code when their graphical capabilities were extremely limited. The iconic Pancake Parlour logo—the “Lovely!” lady—flashes in minimal opacity towards the end of the video and appears to hold up a stop sign in place of her usual fork. Its manner of appearance feels like a hallucination, subliminal advertising or an experimental aversion therapy technique—perhaps a play on the urban legend that the company is a front for Scientology.

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