‘Poke Something That Bites’ is an exhibition that explores the mentally exhausting symptoms of an anxiety disorder. When the mind is like an angry wasps nest thrown into the middle of an elephant’s carcass being torn to pieces by a pack of hyenas it can be difficult to process ‘normal’ or ‘rational’ thoughts.
Your daily routine is a calendar loaded with fear, worry, despair, complete mistrust in others; exaggerated scenarios played out over and over again, while sideline observers whisper ‘crazy’ to their friends.
There are also physical symptoms; shakiness, robotic limbs, sweating. Evading conversation by sticking to the shadows and blending into the surrounding environment. Experiencing the overwhelming urge to transgress into the foetal position while taking a shower.
‘Poke Something That Bites’ is an attempt at visualising these mental and physical symptoms through the mediums of illustration, character design and sculpture/object design.
Cohen is an Australian designer and artist, with a particular interest in mental illness. His work draws people in with bright, almost cheerful colours, before leaving the viewer with a feeling of ice-cold dread once they truly absorb the content.
Influences behind Cohen’s bold illustrative style can be traced back to cartoons like Rocko’s Modern Life, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters and Invader Zim, where the lines between what was appropriate for children but was humorous for adults were often blurred. These conflicting themes continue to be a consistent undercurrent in Cohen’s work, with his art skipping from adolescent optimism to late-stage adult pessimism so quickly, you’d be forgiven for missing the subtle nuances as he attempts to tackle this often difficult subject matter.
‘Poke Something That Bites’ opened Friday 31st October at the Nishi Gallery, NewActon – photo by Michael Camplin
Poke Something That Bites Exhibition
Where: Nishi Gallery, 17 Kendall Lane, NewActon ACT 2601
When: 31st October to 18th November