The first glances upon entering Seventeen take on the characteristics of browsing instead of performing a critical gaze. It might be the context of Dalston causing browser behaviour but, the gallery space almost takes on the curious veneer of a pop up boutique or coffee shop trying to mimic an art space. This impression is given by four rectangular panels made with unfinished wood and partially covered by metallic privacy film spanning the room each titled with the prefix ‘Broadway Flat’ (2015). Held down by sand bags they showcase a pair of men’s Mr Hare leather shoes, Lancome Youth Activating Concentrate, lighters, a dehydrated Big Mac and Quarter Pounder, an empty bottle of Becks Blue, a pair of black Levi 501s slung over a middle bar, a photograph of an anonymous plant in an anonymous garden and a pair of fresh white unbranded trainers, which probably made their initial outing into the fashion lexicon at the tail end of the 1990s. The descriptions of the work on the gallery floor plan read like a drunken Amazon Wishlist.
Although actualised in a physical space, these kind of juxapositions could be lazily side-eyed back to the type of aesthetic circulated by The Jogging and K-Hole; with the dehydrated Big Mac and Quarter Pounder looking particularly comfortable on Chloe Wise’s Instagram. However, on the reverse of one of the panels, a text piece titled ‘The Pang’ utters: “self-promotional, referential, popularity chasing, clique cementing blige that is made considerably worse by the fact it doesn’t even carry any sort of embarrassment or anxiety or apology…” which humorously undermines the assumption of making this kind of reference as reviewer but, also perhaps allows Conroy a critical position himself. There are a further two text pieces installed within the panels. This trilogy of text; ‘The Pang’, ‘The Good Man’ and ‘Niketown’ are the true, enduring ballasts of the work as opposed to the sandbags resting on the supports of the panels.
In the rest of the show authorship spins a little from Conroy with the facing wall featuring curated works by other artists installed on top of exposed brick work wallpaper titled ‘Distinction’ (2015), as if the post-industrial ambiance needs to be re-emphasised. Around the corner, Conroy reappears in ‘2010 - 2014’ (2015) with an assemblage of the ‘artist’s clothes, artist’s books’ layered again on the same wood and privacy film panels, framing a character through lifestyle choice much like the narratives provided by the texts in the other room. One book title displayed catches the eye above the stacks of others: ‘Brand Bubble: The Looming Crisis in Brand Value and How to Avoid it’. This could easily refer to the anxiety of an artist looking for career advice in staying relevant or could be critiquing the artist as marketer model. Walking out of the space and past the Becks Blue, the Levi 501s and Big Mac casually on display, it could also apply to the reasoning behind the aesthetic of this particular collection of consumer products.