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An exhibition about why contemporary life is so difficult for so many
Invisible Forces features the work of artist-visionaries: Kimathi Donkor, Laura Oldfield Ford, IOCOSE, Dave Miller, Edward Picot, and YoHa with additional game events, talks and workshops with Class Wargames, The Hexists, Olga P Massanet and Thomas Cade Aston.
Our social, economic and cultural institutions are being dismantled. Control over the provision of social care, urban and rural development, and education is being ceded to the market facilitated by unseen technological and bureaucratic systems.
Undeterred, the artists in this exhibition meet the challenges that ensue with clear eyes, spontaneity, experimentation and a sense of adventure. This selection of installations, digital video, net art, painting and drawings deal with conspiracy, money, politics and hidden signals.
As part of Invisible Airs, YoHa (Graham Harwood & Matsuko Yokokoji) attempted to read 20,000 comma separated lines of Bristol City Council’s apparently open-data. After which they understood that power reveals itself through multiple layers of boredom. They constructed four pneumatic contraptions which reveal the relations contained within the fields and the people affected. A video made by Alistair Oldham documents their art project Invisible Airs, Database, Expenditure & Power. Invisible Airs was commissioned by The University of the West of England’s Digital Cultures Research Centre (DCRC) in collaboration with the Bristol City Council’s B Open data project.
This is shown alongside Data Entry, a video that investigates how databases operate on us and through us by looking at the work of midwives and women in labour. “Databases move through us, allowing new forms of power to emerge… [they] order, compare, sort and create new views of the information they contain. New perspectives amplify, speed-up and restructure particular forms of power as they supersede others.”
Edward Picot is an artist and writer who also works as an administrator in the UK health service. His seriously funny soap-gone-wrong, Dr Hairy In…, chronicles the trials, tribulations and cogitations of an ordinary (but slightly hirsute) general practitioner – with hilarious results!* Dr Hairy’s struggles with NHS bureaucracy are brought to life in a series of satirical video shorts, featuring puppetry performances given by a child’s doll and screened in a doctor’s waiting room, as an installation. “It was like watching Team America set in the NHS” says Ian Hislop (broadcaster, editor of Private Eye and NHS patient).
Kimathi Donkor‘s Toussaint Louverture at Bedourete is a history painting made with oils on canvas that depicts an icon of anti-slavery struggles who, in his lifetime, was smeared as a reprehensible war lord. Created to mark 200 years since the independence of Haiti, the image shows the leader of the Haitian 1791-1804 revolution in a pose reminiscent of the Jacques Louis David’s Napoleon Crossing the Alps, surrounded by inspired revolutionaries in a battle that led to the creation of Haiti as the first slave free nation in history. In a short film by Ilze Black, Dr Richard Barbrook and Fabian Tompsett of Class Wargames interview Donkor about the work.
Laura Oldfield Ford‘s recent drawings are the result of walks (or ‘Drifts) through deserted urban spaces in the part of East London being prepared for the 2012 Games. They depict layers of failed utopias of the past and present and imagined futures. Known for her poetic and politically tuned ink drawings produced in print and online in her zine Savage Messiah, Oldfield Ford documents her psychogeographic explorations, in text and image, of the city as a site of social conflict, melancholy and political resistance.
Net artist Dave Miller presents two agitprop posters and a pamphlet of images reproduced from his interactive, multi-layered, online narrative bankers_bonuses. Miller worked with software he created himself to combine hand drawn illustrations with images gathered from Internet searches, and provocative (sometimes preposterous) statements made by powerful people about the ethical questions arising from the economic crisis.
Italian artist group IOCOSE has created A Crowded Apocalypse, a net art project that exploits crowd sourcing tools in order to simulate a global conspiracy. The “crowd” assembles its own conspiracy and then protests against its protagonists and effects. A Crowded Apocalypse is commissioned by AND Festival and Furtherfield.
As we scan our cultures for maps, role-models, possible ways of living in today’s world, we often encounter images of society that are created by its hidden, controlling forces. By naming, revealing, tracking, playing, making, subverting and transforming tools, circumstances and figures that give rise to current crises we enlarge the debate and extend our freedoms. And the artists in this exhibition offer examples of just some of the ways in which this might be done.
* Important note. Dr Hairy In… is NOT a critique of socialised medicine and so we include a disclaimer: “The creators of this piece would like to point out that they all work in the National Health Service and are completely devoted to it.”
Free public play, games, making and discussion run alongside the exhibition.
Led by Dave Miller, The Hexists, Class Wargames, Olga P Massanet and Thomas Cade Aston. See HERE for details.
Rachel Baker (The Hexists)
Rachel Baker is a network artist who collaborated on the influential irational.org. Her art practice explores techniques used in contemporary marketing to gather and distribute data for the purposes of manipulation and propaganda. Networks of all kinds are “sites” for Baker’s public and private distributed art practice, including radio combined with Internet (Net.radio), mobile phones and SMS messaging, and rail networks.
Kayle Brandon (The Hexists)
Kayle Brandon is a inter-disciplinary Artist/researcher, whose work is sited within the public, social realm. She predominantly works in collaborative and collective fields; a working method which informs much of her ethos around the making of art. Her main areas of interest are in the relationships between the natural and urban worlds and Human/Non-human relations. She investigates this field via physical intelligence, provocative intervention, observation, self-guided exploration and collective experiences.
Class Wargames is an avant-garde movement of artists, activists, and theoreticians engaged in the production of works of ludic subversion in the bureaucratic society of controlled consumption.
The members of Class Wargames are Dr. Richard Barbrook, author and senior lecturer in the Department of Politics & IR at the University of Westminster; Rod Dickinson, artist and lecturer at University of the West of England; Alex Veness, artist and co-founder of Class Wargames;Ilze Black, media artist and producer; Fabian Tompsett, initiator of London Psychogeographical Association and author; Mark Copplestone, author and figure designer; Lucy Blake, Software developer; Stefan Lutschinger, lecturer, artist and researcher; and Elena Vorontsova, World Radio Network and journalist.
Kimathi Donkor lives and works in London. He attained his B.A. at Goldsmiths and an M.A. at Camberwell College of Art, both in Fine Art. In 2011 he received the Derek Hill Award painting scholarship for the British School at Rome; and, in 2010, his paintings were exhibited in the 29th São Paulo Biennial, Brazil.
IOCOSE has been working in Italy and Europe since 2006. It organises actions in order to subvert ideologies, practices and processes of identification and production of meanings. It uses pranks and hoaxes as tactical means, as joyful and sound tools. IOCOSE thinks about the streets, Internet and word of mouth as a battlefield. Tactics such as mimesis and trickery are used to lead and delude the audience into a semantic pitfall.
Dave Miller is a South London based artist and currently a Research Fellow in Augmented Reality at the University of Bedfordshire. Through his art practice Dave draws out the invisible forces that make life difficult. His work is about caring and being angry, as an artist. His art enables him to express feelings about the world, to attempt to explain things in a meaningful, yet subjective way, and make complexed information accessible. Recurrent themes in his work are: human stories, injustices, contentious issues and campaigning. Recently he’s been very bothered by the financial crisis.
Laura Oldfield Ford
Laura Oldfield Ford lives and works in London. She studied at the Slade School of Art and completed her MA Painting at the Royal College of Art. She has exhibited extensively including Rokeby and Hales galleries in London, Savage Messiah takes over Late at Tate Britain, The Arnolfini, Bristol , De Appel Amsterdam and the Goethe Institute, New York. She has also recently been commissioned by Art Review. She is currently working on new projects for the Shenzhen Sculpture Biennial in China, the 2012 Gwangju Biennial and the show ‘Desire Paths’ at the Caja Madrid in Barcelona. A compilation of her zine ‘Savage Messiah’, which documents her psychogeographic drifts through London, is available on Verso books.
Edward Picot was born in 1958. He lives in Kent with his dog, wife and daughter, not necessarily in that order. He earns his living as a Practice Manager in a doctor’s surgery, and in his spare time he does creative things – usually at the low-tech end of the new media spectrum. He started the Dr Hairy series – humorous short puppet-videos about a fictional doctor, closely based on his own experiences of working in the NHS – in 2010.
Graham Harwood and Matsuko Yokokoji (YoHa – English translation ‘aftermath’) have lived and worked together since 1994.
YoHa’s graphic vision, technical tinkering, has powered several celebrated collaborations establishing an international reputation for pioneering critical arts projects.
Harwood and Yokokoji’s co founded the artists group Mongrel (1996-2007) and established the MediaShed a free media lab (2005-2008). In 2008 they joined Richard Wright to produce Tantalum Memorial shown in 9 countries and 15 cities over 4 years. In 2010 YoHa produced Coal Fired Computers before embarking on a series of works about the lived logics of database machinery including Invisible Airs, Data Entry in 2011 and Endless War in 2012.
McKenzie Pavilion, Finsbury Park
London N4 2NQ
T: +44 (0)20 8802 2827
Furtherfield Gallery is supported by Haringey Council and Arts Council England
Dave Miller’s bankers_bonuses is supported by KAY MOUNTING.