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.
I will periodically make the film available to watch online here.
It is due to show in 2018 at Glasgow International at Glasgow Centre for Contemporary Art on May 2nd. Link here
(original music by Leo Chadburn)
Watch this trailer
A kind of warped Sci- fi 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 gods of long-dead political factions – or elemental components of the RGB system that is their synthetic world? – 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’, that can no longer be seen as ideologically neutral.
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.
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
This work took 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 and where the Mythical Red, Green, and Blue characters have their final showdown proclaiming their rhetoric, producing spasms of white light when they clash.
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
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’…