THE UNSPEAKABLE FREEDOM DEVICE

THE UNSPEAKABLE FREEDOM DEVICE

Is an experimental narrative film and multimedia sculptural installation, commissioned by  Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool, for a solo show  in 2015.  It also manifests as a BOOK of the same name commissioned by BOOK WORKS. LINK HERE.

You can now watch the complete film work below. Please use good speakers and full HD!

(original music by Leo Chadburn)

Or Watch this trailer

A kind of warped Folk-tale, the film follows two women through a bizarre, broken landscape of collapsing signs and imploding meanings, on a pilgrimage to the Winter Gardens,  to cure their green baby. In this fantastic, primitive-future world, the difference between technology and magic has become incomprehensible. Our characters become entangled in a cargo-cult of Margaret Thatcher, and buy a Maggie doll which spouts  quotations to guide them when they pull its string.

Red, Green, and Blue characters – distorted versions of long-dead political factions -appear to them as trials of their journey. When they arrive at their destination – ‘THE LIVING THATCHER DEVICE SHOW’ at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool, they are threatened with the Ultimate Upgrade- a sinister, psychedelic absurdity, that loops their story into its beginning. The Film explores the idea of Margaret Thatcher as an after-burn on the collective memory of British culture. It expresses a fever-dream fantasy emerging from current global anxieties; ecological catastrophe, populist political extremism, our ever more complex relationships with our ‘devices’.

It has toured to Matt’s Gallery London, Utah Museum of Contemporary art, USA, Kochi, India, as part of Future Orbits ..European Media Arts Festival, Germany, Antimatter Canada…etc and throughout the UK mostly in artist run spaces: Outpost Norwich, Cube Bristol, Grand Union Birmingham, Primary Nottingham, The International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Manchester etc. It showed as a large scale installation again, in a different iteration, in London at Block 336 in September- October 2016.

giant Maggie head in Winter Gardens

Grundy installation show white roomInstallation view Grundy Art Gallery

maggie room at GrundyInstallation view Grundy Art Gallery

Read an in depth interview and essay on the work in Miraj Journal HERE

READ a review by Bob Dickinson HERE

READ A REVIEW BY DEB LANG HERE

Review in ArtReview HERE

Article in Frieze HERE

THE USPEAKABLE stillRebecca Darmondy as Mary

grundy installation gallery1Installation view, Grundy Art Gallery

Green man hand dance by big tree(s) copyRichard Whitby as a Green

Taking inspiration from a Martin Rowson cartoon that depicts Margaret Thatcher’s funeral as a tribal ritual in some obscure ‘savage’ culture, as well as other touchstones such as the novel Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban, it uses the fantastic location of the Winter Gardens, Blackpool, to explore, through speculative fantasy, the cultural legacy of the Conservative Party conferences that took place there during the rise of Margaret Thatcher. Mythical Red, Green, and Blue characters – that could be distorted versions of long-dead political factions -appear to them on the journey, proclaiming their rhetoric, producing spasms of white light when they clash.

Red Woman SpeechAlison Edmundston as a  Red


When they arrive at their journey’s end – ‘THE LIVING THATCHER DEVICE SHOW’ at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool, they are threatened with the Ultimate Upgrade- a sinister, psychedelic absurdity, that loops their story into its beginning.

Blue Presenter in Winter GardensJohn Wagland as a Blue

This project brings together themes that animate my work; the persuasive trickery of ideological language and image manipulation technology, and a dream like absurdity  within the everyday. I interested belief systems, ideas of truth, power and pleasure, and how cultural memories are re-made and distorted according to the needs of each era. The film features a new music soundtrack by Leo Chadburn

block336 48.jpg

Installation view at Block 336, London

The production of the work itself, and the shows at Grundy and Block 336 were funded by Arts Council England, and a research grand from the CCW graduate school, University of the Arts, London.

Go HERE for a wealth of documentation on the series of talks and debates that accompanied the tour, with speakers; Esther Leslie, Erica Scourti, Oreet Ashery, Jennifer Thatcher, Pil and Galia, Melanie Jackson, Sonia Dyer, Paul O’Kane, Tim Dixon, and Zara Dinnen, Isobel Harbison

Below is Art Monthly’s coverage (October 2014 issue) of the story of how this show came to be ‘postponed’…

Art Monthly October 2014 artnotes- cropped Unspeakable Freedom

4 responses to “THE UNSPEAKABLE FREEDOM DEVICE

  1. Pingback: THE UNSPEAKABLE FREEDOM DEVICE | JENNET THOMAS

  2. Pingback: Censorship of UNSPEAKABLE FREEDOM | CCW Graduate School Blog

  3. Pingback: Jennet Thomas | Bread And Jam

  4. Pingback: The Unspeakable Freedom Device | Q&A with Jennet Thomas | CCW Graduate School Blog

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