Thomas Knights: Red Hot (2014) – Art Review

Thomas Knights


Number two in contemporary art! So – contemporary? Yes. New? Not exactly. To use photographer Thomas Knights word this project has “snowballed” since its conception following a Tumblr post. This exhibit, found next to a café tucked away in London, featured one of the models sat in the corner as a host. Supported by a number of memorabilia including a book that really spearheaded Thomas Knights campaign. As it does have a very definite aim. This exhibit isn’t just an exhibit, it also houses a screening of films on the subject – if the book and memorabilia wasn’t enough. It is obvious that this exhibit features a large push from its bakers and it’s likely that if you hear of Red Hot you’re very aware of what it is and what it wants. If we were to consider Wild Ones (my last reviewed exhibition) as a modest declaration then this one is already far more in your face and commercial. Bad thing? Well, let’s see.


Okay, so I’ve held off on declaring the aims of this exhibit for too long. Ginger – the hair colour. What are you thinking? I think Red Hot would like you to think normal, maybe sexy maybe not, but normal. If not that then outright sexy. Where there is a difference there is bullying and being Ginger is no exception. Red Hot states that this goes as far as one of the ‘last acceptable forms of racism‘. There are no positive role models or sex icons for Gingers. I’m not so convinced, Seth Green? Simon Pegg? Damian Lewis? Domhnall Gleeson? Even Chuck Norris? I have to admit that I didn’t really regard this as that much of an issue. Not sure if that’s a good thing or not. Sometimes I feel by striving for equal rights and pride in what one is, one can take it too far into emphasising that they’re different and almost asking for positive discrimination. This is a very complex issue, far beyond the scope of this review and I recognise this. It is also difficult to establish whether the above actors actually are Ginger, it’s not something usually put on a profile and actors frequently dye their hair anyway. Simon Pegg, has proclaimed not to be Ginger but is certainly used as a Ginger Icon none-the-less. There is a sense that the statement Red Hot is trying to make is too desperate and therefore feels like propaganda saying you will find us sexy, and not quite about equality. The photographs are beautiful and there’s some very good models in them. In a sense the battle is won and lost – equality is a tricky issue. 


The films screened show more of the background to the piece. Exploring the lives of Ginger people and exploring ways in which to celebrate them. The stories focus on negative aspects – though bullying is a very cruel part of human interaction – it feels overemphasised. The celebrations of being Ginger, romanticise the models depicted very effectively. It certainly is very effective technical at showing the interaction between a Ginger male and Ginger female as a very sexy moment. The way in which a performer is shown on film is also shot beautifully to aid in romanticising them as a person. Technically the photographs and films are very well done.


This is a very interesting exhibition. Strong technically but it feels far too much as if the message is pushed down ones throat – choking on it. Strange. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the message or the way that it’s conveyed. This was more of a commercialised exhibition than Wild Ones – one feels bigger than the other. One is piggybacking on other artists and shows a genuine passion, the other is using social media and advertisement to get the exhibition and it’s message across to people. Red Hot’s message, however, is far too disparately stressed. Less ‘You’re one of us’ more ‘it’s about us’.


Further Reading

Red Hot Exhibition Website

Thomas Knights

Review – Everything For Red Heads

Review – Time Out

Review – Instinct Magazine

Article – The Swell Life

Red Hot 100: The 100 Sexiest Red Hot Guys in the World



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