I wrote the above sentence for the purpose of describing the ‘dark optimism’ behind my last major drawing projects. I feel I need to explain, in detail, what I mean, because I feel it is a good place to begin my understanding of the projects based on shared experiences and radical care that The Retro Bar at the End of the Universe is currently undertaking under the title of ‘The Public Secret’.
When I can’t help expressing my distress about my experience of this world, a few people have pulled me up and pointed me towards the work of the scientist/author Steven Pinker: his works on how our world is on average less violent and more safe than it has ever been. Begrudgingly accepting of this truth (although I’ve never read his book), I had to figure…
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This gallery contains 13 photos.
Originally posted on The Retro Bar at the End of the Universe:
2018 was the year when I had to ask the question the above title poses… Neoliberal Me (An Exorcism of) and #GE18 (The General Election of Governing Emotions) 2008 to 2009 – I learnt a harsh lesson: devoting a year to mapping one’s…
Over the course of the year, I’ve had to ask myself a lot of questions, for numerous reasons. Part of the outcome is that I largely class the work I do as part of the collective I am part of (https://retrobarattheendofuniverse.wordpress.com).
Here is the first event I am putting on since this deep point of reevaluation…
#GE18 (The General Election of Governing Emotions) is an event occurring at two locations in Leeds on the Longest day of the year!
130 Vicar Lane from 5-7pm and…
Art Hostel, (83 Kirkgate) from 6:30-9pm.
Born out of intense debates around the global political crises, the mental health epidemic, and the online factionalisation of opinion, #GE18 asks to us to engage in a ‘what if’ general election where we get to vote for emotions rather than through them.
How would we ideally like to feel and behave in life? How would we really like the world to feel and behave like? Well come along to The General Election of Governing Emotion on June 21st and let us know…as well as seeing #GE18 art prints, cassette sleeves for a collaborative project called ‘Songs For My Punchdrunk Idealism’, and engaging in non-combative conversation!
The Mental Health Strike is part of a project I am building as part of the Retro Bar at the End of the Universe collective. The project is based on actions and moments that deposit social and political actions within the contemporary cultural landscape that would be seen as impossible asks, as if they are apparitions from near-futures where a completely different set of tools and demands are available to build a 21st century world where collective mental well-being is at crucible of social organisation.
The Mental Health Strike, which was set for the date of January 22 2018 (supposed to be the most depressing day of the year) is neither a case of ‘what if’, nor is it an actual strike that has been organised. It exists in the in-between, where it could become real.
The week before Jan 22 these placards were placed around specific areas in Leeds…
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I have been re-working this text and image work I made late last year in a sound/image piece. Last Resort To Forgotten Funwas part of a series of works called ‘Stories From Time-locked Space’, which we included in our first publication, published earlier this year.
<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/248603349″>Last Resort To Forgotten Fun (Stories From Time-locked Space)</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user60125733″>John Ledger</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
To begin with, I am sorry to all of the people I need to be sorry to right now. You know who you are.
I can’t fling last night’s dreaming into the Sleep Dustbin of the all the funny things your brain can do.
The non-linear nature of memory has reminded of me that I have only ever experienced dreams similar to last night’s a few times in my life. Last night felt like the past speaking to me directly, through memory in dream-scape.
Others have spoken to me of the uncanny dreams they’ve had when they’re lives have hit the rocks. I’m not sure I’m quite at the rocks yet, but I know there’s a truth to what they are saying.
It could be a self defense mechanism? When a crisis hits, the brain creates chemical formulas that we experience as spiritual moments? Maybe.
In last night’s dream state I went into my grandparents’ house, to check, or look over something for the family. Neither the fact that we haven’t had hold over this house since my grandad passed away 6 years ago, nor the fact that the dog, which died in 2003 before both of my grandparents, was present stuck our as being abnormal within a dream-scape.
The shock came when I went into the main room to find my Grandma stood there – a woman who, basically died when Alzheimer’s ate her up in 2003, but factually survived until summer 2007, was stood there as she would have been in the 1990’s and 80’s.
Prior to this the dream felt like a dream. This part didn’t, it felt like a presence.
The second equally weird moment came when, from shock, I ran out of the house, towards a shop that is still standing, across the road. I ran in to tell my mother.
But the shop was the shop as it was before 1999, and I wasn’t speaking to my mother in the way I would now. Nor was she the person who I interact with now, in a manner (unfortunately) massively mediated by my functional depression, and the shame and humiliation over my unfulfilled adult life; she was the woman I used to see as a mum rather than a reminder of my failure as an adult human being. It felt like another direct encounter with another time; it was un-dream-like.
Like all the mornings of this week, I haven’t been leaving my bedroom until noon. Unlike my ‘normal state’ of trying to critique our society’s nostalgiaism, I have been injecting pure nostalgia straight into my veins – it felt like the only option.
This morning I found myself listening to a song by long-haul Scottish indie-pop band Teenage Fanclub. I get like this when it feels like I can’t hold the depressive functioning together anymore, I get sucked in by anything that seems to speak of a life I had when I loved life, and didn’t function in it by a general deadness to time and space.
I first heard ‘Baby Lee’ on 6 Music some months back. I thought Teenage Fanclub had decided to cover a 1960’s pop classic.
Or maybe even a 1950’s pop classic? This is because as I walked along an unforgiving traffic-choked road earlier on, it sparked a thought in my head: maybe the mid to late twentieth century had more in common with the late Victorian (and even earlier?) than it does now. I exhaled, looked down so the white van drivers couldn’t see my slapped-face and thought of how horrific and disturbing our present social body is.
‘Baby Lee’ is pure nostaglia, but it isn’t the ‘zombie super-cut’ (Mere Pseud) of most current music, especially since The Strokes. Britain (and the world is too big of a project when it comes to Pain) is a dead dog, where all the flees (as in us) are fighting each other for ever-diminishing salvation from the life-stripping machine, and ‘Baby Lee’ evokes (even if nostalgically) a time where compassion and empathy were ‘natural’.#
This harking back to a post-war moment is nothing short of something that is bringing tears to my eyes. I admit I’m in a poor state as I write, and thus maybe I shouldn’t be blogging, but here I am. I never experienced the post-war period, and I am aware it wasn’t great either, but I certainly experienced it in dying gestures (seriously even the streets of the 90’s are a huge jump from now) , and experience that what gained from its loss as an awful feeling of lack that never ebbs, and forces its sad subjects into zombieist nostalgia due to lack of another option.
I wanted to go talk about one of the other few dreams that were similar to last night’s… I must have been 7 going on 8. It was around a time when our Junior School was going to Wigan Pier. The dream I had was in retrospect mixed up with my dad playing a song by the Rolling Stones about meeting a factory girl affter her shift (?).
All I can remember is that in this dream I fell in love with a mill girl.
And for months after (in fact it probably never really disappeared) I had a feeling that I can only think is the one I’ve never experienced in the my REAL adult life: heartbreak (I guess I was just about becoming a sexualised being at 8).
It was another when something occurred that WAS REAL, because I can remember fantasising about being able to travel back in time to meet her. I can also remember makign an utter fool of myself trying to explain the ‘experience’ to a fellow class friend after class registration (it must have been late 1991 or early 1992).
These dreams were not experienced as dreams, they were experienced as presences. But the disclaimer to this blog is that I am not particularly well at the moment, but with lack of connection with people elsewhere, I felt I wanted to post this – even if it I come through this shit and it all seems like nonsense. BTW, I’m not looking for comments. thanks for your consideration
<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/225750903″>Milly-Molly-Mandy gets Loaded and Other Stories</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user68633656″>Rebekah Whitlam</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
Video work by Rebekah Whitlam based on her installation for Will the last person to leave the 20th century please turn off the lights? an exhibition staged by our collective The Retro Bar at the End of the Universe
Thanks to Adam Weikert for the soundtrack (and TLC).
A mixed media installation exploring a nations 21st century come down from 20th century neoliberal hedonism. A new generation of adults become petrified in 90s juvenility. Numbers in anxiety, depression, ADHD, and liver disease have doubled over the past 30 years. We’re broke, confused, and desperately scrambling for the exit.