Archive | June 2014

Five Years Drowning – a virtual tour

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…Attempting a cognitive mapping of chaos…speeding of information causing its very disintegration…a proliferation of incomprehension…a deluge of auto-suggestions against the panic attacks of rare clear perception…being brayed between mumbo-jumbo-unreality and the biggest ever threats to humanity…underneath it all an cracking of skin and an aging of bones #CanIHaveSomeTimeAlone? Five Years Drowning.

The exhibition runs until Wednesday 2nd June

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TV Talk (part of series)

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TV Talk (part of series)

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Hyper-Malaise

Hyper Mailaise

Five Years Drowning installation

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Progress…

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Five years Drowning installation

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TV Talk (part of series)

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TV Talk (part of series)

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TV Talk (part of series)

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close up section of ‘Who Would Want to Listen to This?’

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Pre-2008-Crash Time-Capsules

The Sad but necessary demolition of some older pieces of work.

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Although I wouldn’t really call these pieces of work sculpture – they were more accompaniments to my drawings, mounds rising up to slightly obscure the pieces I was showcasing/like a weight on a stressed chest that won’t go away (guilt of being part of/wedded into the trappings of a destructively consumptive society) – they certainly shared the demand for storage space that sculpture demands. Unfortunately for most of us, such space just isn’t available (I genuinely believe the main difference between sculptors and painters/drawing-based artists, is that access to ample of space to expand into to is a necessity before you even begin to contemplate being a sculptor).

Images ftom exhibition 'The Healing Process'. r

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These pieces of work were made in 2008, and became crammed into a shed with other works. The began to get damaged, but they were beginning to damage other, less damaged works. So, to save those works, I decided that these works would have to be demolished. They were originally part of an installation called ‘The Healing Process’ which I exhibited in the fall of 2008 (healing, as a coming to terms with things, a gradual greening over of scars on the landscape I grew up in, reflecting a hope for a gradual healing over of psychological scars I’d carried with me for some years). Yet I made them from waste and fly-tipped material (largely non-recyclable, except for the newspaper used for Papier-Mache) in the summer of 2008, before it became aware to everybody that we were amidst a huge financial crisis.

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Largely because I am overly concerned with the notion that time as become (even further) out of joint since then I was quite keen to document all that stuff that hasn’t seen light of day since summer 2008. The pre 2008-crash point feels like another epoch whilst it still only seems like yesterday, amidst the austerity-age logic, and superstitiously-embedded faith that things will ‘return to normal’, our experience of time is spinning on a stuck broken record. This meant that it felt weirdly like uncovering relics to a world only 5 minutes past.

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Demolishing them, kind of also felt like knocking down old buildings with the interior of somewhere once lived-in in full sight. Truth be told, the items, even the shards of newspaper stories bear no real difference to what they would look like now, it isn’t as if the world of seeming permanent austerity looks that different – yet something is different, and opening up these soon to be destroyed pieces of work made me think of this difference.

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Why didn’t the riots return (in the years following 2011)?

What happened to that energy/impulse that Slavoj Žižek said was split between positive/emancipatory and destructive, which burst out in 2011? For me, the destructive energies/impulses of the UK riots in August of that year exemplified both the explosive jolt out of neoliberal capitalism’s snatching of our hearts and minds that 2011 showed glimmers of (even, as to quote a friend, if anything the riots were in fact that very neoliberal right wing libertarianist “system expressing itself”), whilst also being an exemplar of why these energies/impulses seem to have evaporated since.

I must admit, as spring met summer in the following year of 2012, it slowly became clear to me that it wouldn’t return during this calender year. Specifically here in the UK, as such antagonistic energies, and an ability for cognitive mapping of the social landscape were being diverted and dissolved by a succession of Jingoist demands on the population (the Diamond Jubilee, England’s place in the Euro 2012 Football tournament, and last – but certainly not least – the London Olympic spectacle.) Yet, I really expected this energy to return in 2013, expecting that survivalist adrenaline the media hype of the riots induced in me with ominous anticipation. I expected it to the extent that I found myself in uncomfortable arguments with people who mistook my desire for the fault-lines in this social-Thatcherism-par-excellence point in time to become like gaping chasms in the streets we walk, with a desire to see a return of the mob violence and ruination of livelihoods which was the truth of the riots for many.

Come-what-may they didn’t return (and I severely doubt they will again this year). As I said, I felt they were both an exemplar of the energy/impulse that erupted in 2011 as well as for the reason it didn’t return, because here in the UK nothing else shook the real of neoliberal Britain than they did. And as part and parcel of the justified fear  they induced in the rest of the population (hyped by the media so that it felt like it was happening in every street – “they’re coming for you!”) was the way in which the clampdown by the state could drag down and smother all the emancipatory lifeblood that was flowing through that year along with the riots.

What crept into my thought processes in the following couple of years was the reverse: a total lack of energised belief, an audacity to challenge the post 2008 zombie capitalism, that (like the recent, fast zombie, movies) is feeding off life at an unprecedented speed. A malaise, an ever more privatised construction of our world has ensued (consisting of a deep immersion in sound-bite-sharing on social media, pictures of cute kittens, Netflix dramas etc). A higher level of unreality, repetition of our own lives until then, side by side with an increasing narrowing of future horizons towards that (“one day, surely!) ever-harder to attain secure, stable full time job, and that desire to remain in whatever employment we have, which has raised the protestant work ethic in the work place to an hysterical level (such that the frenzied, yet pointless bureaucratic landscape of Terry Gilliam’s dystopian film Brazil now just looks like another day at work.)

Energy has been zapped, time increasingly taken from us (as the need to be constantly checking our cell phones, social media profiles – “as something promising is surely behind that sms envelope/bright red notification” – dominates our subconscious) and the ‘gloves off’ neoliberal capitalist assault as plunged us all into a survivalist state of being, centred around an eternal present where each day merely resembles the next one. Climate change, escalating situations in only-just-out-of-sight countries – these things become both too much to comprehend and also worryingly unreal, like looking at the world through a just-emptied Jack Daniels bottle. How can the energy/impulse for change that is so crucial right now return under all of this? Everything is moving so fast, yet there’s never been so much malaise when one is confronted by anything beyond their increasingly porcupine-like ego. It is hypermalaise.

When I attempted to undertake a Cultural Studies course in London during the fall of 2012,  the many social, environmental, existential issues were all seemingly at a tipping point on my horizon. Perhaps, because of this, I caved in on myself down there and needed to return to the familiar South/West Yorkshire landscape. Of course, if they were at a tipping point 2 years ago, they most certainly are now. Yet, likely because of the aforementioned predicament , they suddenly feel off radar, miles away, happening but not happening at the same time. As well as this I had to train myself to become a little distant from what I saw around me after London simply just so I could function, because not being able to function when I needed to find work again simply wasn’t an option.

In 2013, my approach was to pick up ideas on a ‘cognitive mapping’ of our contemporary landscape from the shards of an unfinished course, and apply these to my home landscape, in an attempt to build a coherent picture to challenge the disorientation and confusion surrounding our contemporary landscape that everything else was more or inducing in me, and (seemingly) most other people too. After veering away from this project during the last 6 months, I have come back to realising just how crucial it may be as a way of grasping reality from the hands of the neoliberal state’s media control over reality, where the amnesia of now, leaves us blind to anything but an ever-distant past (surely this is why countless people find themselves perplexed that the 1990’s – just before society became immersed in the Eternal Now of cyberspace – is actually a long time ago now) . Thus, I have begun making these maps again, memorising what caught my attention in urban/suburban landscapes during the same day, before it disappears into this time-hole. The map below is the one I made yesterday.

 

map 17 june

 

Five Years Drowning – upcoming show in Sheffield

I have a solo show coming up in Sheffield centre, the preview opening on Wednesday 25 June.

Image…Attempting a cognitive mapping of chaos…speeding of information causing its very disintegration…a proliferation of incomprehension…a deluge of auto-suggestions against the panic attacks of rare clear perception…being brayed between mumbo-jumbo-unreality and the biggest ever threats to humanity…underneath it all an cracking of skin and an aging of bones #CanIHaveSomeTimeAlone? Five Years Drowning.

A solo exhibition by John Ledger@35 Chapel Walk

Thursday 25 June – Wednesday 2 July, 11AM – 4PM.
Preview Wednesday 25 June, 6-8PM

35 Chapel Walk, Sheffield, S1 2DP
http://www.35chapelwalk.com

“We Are Already Dead” – or disconcerting sensations

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Total immersion in cyberspace has slowly given me this sense that I have died, but I can’t figure when this happened (probably in the past 3 years). Yet, at the same time it seems like cyberspace’s infiltration of my nervous system (the information superhighway’s merger with the bloodstream) is the only thing keeping me alive. If, like the half Cyborg/Half human teen-protagonists in M.T Anderson’s novel FEED , something happened to completely ‘disconnect’ me, the true horror of that which cyberspace accelerates into unreal, far-away, sound-bite, would suddenly become too real, and potentially too much to endure.

The “Zero” century (Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi) began the day the ‘real horrorshow’ spectacle of the collapsing Twin Towers was melted onto our minds like media napalm. More blockbuster than any horror movie from the previous 100 years, could anything ever shock us ever again? And so came the slow undead triumph over Western culture – no wonder it’s been mirrored by a proliferation in zombie/vampire movies. A slow slip form the life world which the emerging broadband Internet could help (zombie)-germinate and then reproduce. All our civilisation seems equipped for now is reflections of its former self.

All of this confirms in me that it is the dominant belief system and the structures that form around it that is the corpse at the reigns; our feelings of being dead partly caused due it being able to seemingly annihilate the possibility of an alternative to its own dominance from the psyche-sphere whilst it was in the process of dying itself. Yet, this sensation of undead-ness mainly comes by us clinging more rigidly to the dead belief system the more things like climate change and the joint threat of permanent-austerity and creeping surveillance threaten to take away the few things we were fooled into thinking were givens, as long as we compromised to live under this system. When you see no way out of worsening situation your survival instincts are to live in a state of further delusion, only now and again being hit by the disconcerting sensation that “we are already dead” (1984). The quote from 1984 I really want to use here (but cannot find anywhere, without the book) is when the protagonist Winston Smith realises that he will never be able to kill himself, to cut short his existence he already knows to be doomed, and stresses how instinct forces his body to stay alive, taking one breath after another for as long as it can.

I admittedly usually cut things short here, as if leaving the blanks to fill in. Partly because this blog has been set up largely with the hasty desire for my visual work to be seen and appreciated/exposed (‘instinct forcing the body to try to stay alive as long as possible”), and this has almost already confirmed that I will only amount to a rookie writing level, with a poor knowledge of writers to use citations from. But I also cut things short because I don’t know what to write from here. I don’t know what to suggest from this point, but still feel I should to shirk off the “negative person” tags. Because I don’t see my self as a negative person, I see myself as I critical person, and Now needs endless criticism. But I just don’t have any answers, not anymore, those naive early adulthood asks of “why not” were easily winded, and need to be replaced. I need a second wind.

The Retro Bar at The End of The Universe

The Retro Bar at The End of The Universe

The Retro bar at the end of the Universe