Every cloud might have a silver lining, but every clean, gleaming surface in Flo Brooks’s work has a thick sheen of filth and grime. Across a handful of twisted, oddly shaped paintings, Brooks creates a universe full of double meanings, scum, hygiene issues and gender that’s so fluid it’s flowing through sewage pipes.
The basic idea is that each work captures a cleaning team (‘Scrubbers’) at work or rest. They’re squeegeeing down a mirror in a public bathroom, wiping gym equipment, swiffing the window in a therapist’s office. They use ‘Endurance’ wipes, ‘Aggressor’ cleaning solution, ’Fortress’ hand-sanitiser. The scenes are littered with ‘CIS Security’ signs, graffitied cocks, male-to-female plug adaptors.
Suddenly you realise that Brooks is making super-deliberate choices, everything here is riddled with extra metaphorical value. These are tools of cleansing and erasure, and they are spaces of transformation – you go to the gym or the therapist to become something, to change.
It makes sense. Brooks is trans himself, and he sees the signs of his own existence echoed in everything around him. This is a set of narratives that expose a grotty, tough, bodily, real and very funny side of transformational life. It’s a great bunch of ideas, painted brilliantly, and it’ll really make you think about how your shampoo is genderising you.