Tag Archive | humans in cages

Under Digital Rain (in photos)

Here are photographs of my exhibition ‘Under Digital Rain’,  curated by John Wright. Held at the Bowery Gallery, Headingley, Leeds, it runs until 29th July.

Gallery opening times
Monday – Saturday 10:00 – 18:00
Sunday 10:00 – 17:00

54 Otley Road
Headingley
Leeds
LS6 2AL

P1010013

P1010016

The World-Wide Oneupmanship (2016, 8X4ft, mixed media on paper)

P1010010

P1010011

P1010015

P1010009

Title of work below: £$[We]€$[Can’t]$£[Take]£€[Any]$€[More!!]$£ (2016)

P1010008

 

Titles of works in image below (from left to right): Gimme Shelter [Closure No1] (2015); The Self[ie] Under Siege (2015); “Sad, LONELY, Frightened” (2015); Drainage System (2016); Tired of Life/I Want to Leave Myself [Closure No2] (2016); NoteToSelf2016; The Capacity to Care (Closure No5) (2016); A Cognitive Austerity (2015); A Deep Paralysis (2016); Hunger Games Darwinism (2016); Bound up in Binary (2016); “Can We Stop now, Please?”; I am Becoming Nothing (Closure No3) (2015).

P1010002

The World-Wide Oneupmanship (2016, 8X4ft, mixed media on paper)

 

P1010006

 

 

P1050109

 

P1050102

Everything I’ve Done in 2015

It’s pretty unlikely I’ll get anything else done this year now, as I’ve hit my New Year-period wall prematurely, from which I can never imagine the possibility of making anything new again – until I make something new again. Perhaps I do my own yearly roundups because I somehow feel that I’m unjustifiably forgotten about. When I regain my bearings from the egotistical gravel pit, I recognise that it’s likely over 90% of us feel this way. But all the same, no choice but to play The Game.

So here’s a list, in a more or chronological order, of the best bits of what I have done in 2015; and believe me, there’s a lot of bits I’d rather regret. Regarding the visual works, I feel THE LONG NIGHT OF A NEEDLESS STORM is my strongest piece, both in visuals and title, it’s the best attempt I’ve made all year of interlinking all the problems of today indirectly back to the dominant political agenda.


January 2015

Cynicism Has Had It’s Day


What is Ugly Anyway?


Non-Stop Inertia: A Stuck Record in London

P1020624


February 2015

Surfaces of an Unrealised World

use (2)


 March 2015

Not Humanly Possible (A4, ink on paper)

Not Humanly Possible

Not Humanly Possible

A Cognitive Austerity (A4, ink on paper)

A Cognitive Austerity  (2015)

A Cognitive Austerity


Another Lonely Night, Stare at TV Screen


April 2015

Stories From Forgotten Space


May 2015

Lost Bus Routes and Pre-Election Rambles from john Ledger on Vimeo.


Five MORE Years… (A4, ink on paper)

Five MORE Years... (2015)

five MORE years…

“I am Here (a Lost Work From 2009)


June 2015

THE LONG NIGHT OF A NEEDLESS STORM (125x100cm, mixed media on paper)

The Long Night of a Needless Storm

close up 6

Close up 1

THE LONG NIGHT OF A NEEDLESS STORM


“Hardworking Tax-payers, Inconvenienced” (A4, ink on paper)

IMG_20150604_0001

“Hardworking Taxpayers, Inconvenienced”


Pain is Barred an Outlet (A4, ink on paper)

IMG_20150621_0001

Pain is Barred an Outlet


July 2015

“Sad, LONELY, Frightened” (A4, ink on paper)

Sad, LONELY, Frightened 001

“Sad, LONELY, Frightened”


Stories From Forgotten Space (book)

p1030807


Everybody’s Fracking (95X130cm, mixed media on paper)

Everybody's Fracking

Everybody’s Fracking

P1030851


This Is Not a Top Song List: My Life Through Joy Division Tracks


August 2015

The Self [ie] Under Siege  (A4, mixed media on paper)

The Self [ie] Under Siege - By John Ledger

The Self [ie] Under Siege


Lost Summers

P1030977


Interview for Art Saves Lives magazine


OneNationTory (2015)

OneNat

OneNationTory


September 2015

“Can We Stop Now, Please?” (A4, mixed media on paper)

IMG2(1)

“Can We Stop Now, Please?”


The Big Smoke (and Mirrors): Stories From Forgotten Space from john Ledger on Vimeo.


Images from Voices From The Wilderness exhibition (Sheffield)


Images from Strange Bedfellows exhibition (Barnsley)


October 2015

Manchester and The Morning After (Stories From Forgotten Space) from john Ledger on Vimeo.


Nothing New Under Digital Rain

Untitled


November 2015

Debtland (2015, 110X77cm, mixed media on paper)

1

P1040478

P1040477

Debtland

P1040547


Friday’s Anguish


Artwork for Wear Your Band T-shirt to Work Day (explanation here)

Rubber Ring. Gimme Shelter - Copy

Artwork for Wear Your Band T-shirt to Work Day


Sounds that made up my year…

“the rotten soil of nowhere land”

Tears For Fears – The Hurting (Demo version)

Zomby – Where Were U in 92′

Real McCoy – Runaway (Tory election victory-sting-soother)

The Fall – Frightened

New Order – The Village

Goat – Let it Bleed/Gathering of Ancient Tribes

Sleaford Mods – Double Diamond

Wu Tang Clan  – C.R.E.A.M

Sleaford Mods – Mcflurry

Sleaford Mods – Jobseeker

Sleaford Mods – Tied up in Notts

DMS – vengeance

Sleaford Mods – Teacher Faces Porn Charges

Rufige Kru – Menace

Congress – 40 Miles

Chumbawumba – Tubthumping

Sonz of a Loop Da Loop Era – Far Out

The Chameleons – Don’t Fall/Second Skin – (again)

Winter

IMG_4296

I Just haven’t got the resistance to comfort-seeking I used to have in aid of achieving what I had to do. Every day 5 years back, at the back end of 2010, I would go down to my studio (Elsecar, South Yorks), straight after my job, 2 train stops or 2 bus rides from where I live, in the one of the coldest snaps I have experienced in my life. In aide of what? I was working on 2 drawings that were meticulously thought on about how to describe the world we were drifting into; I knew already that Tory rule would mean a intensification of all the things we needed to veer away from to avert future disasters, socially and ecologically. It really did feel like the dawn of a winter, and on the eve of 2011 I felt like I had to be prepared for this more than at any other point. This more intensified slotting of work-making between job and sleep, felt almost like a drill, or something compensatory for the coward I always feared I’d be when pushed came to shove, for whatever one may be shoved into. The studio was so cold the pipes froze and burst around Christmas time, and with my finger-less-gloved hands I’d have to hold my pens with one hand whilst holding an hot water bottle with the other. I miss the sincerity of the devotion to getting these works done, I really do.

What music reminds me of this? In Bluer Skies, Echo and the Bunnymen

IMG_2746

The early stages of the ironically-titled drawing, Global Ghetto, 2045, Marks The Centenary of The Defeat of Fascism

1

The early stages of ‘I Want None of This’

1

5 Years of Art under ConDem Rule

Am I currently working on a drawing called The long Night of a Needless Storm which I wanted to be ready to show now, but it isn’t and I don’t like showing incomplete works, so here is the rest of the psycho-bile-build-up from the past 5 years. I for one cannot endure another 5 years like this.

“…GIVE ME A BREAK!?!!..”

.

A Privatised Implosion (2014, A4, Ink on paper)

A Privatised Implosion (2014)

The Index For Child Well-being (2011, mixed media on paper, 100X100cm)

John Ledger - The Index For Child Wellbeing

I Want None of This (2011, mixed media on paper, 180X105cm)

I Want None of This (2147x4000)

I Want None of This - Copy

A Psychic Timebomb (2013, mixed media on paper)

A Psychic Timebomb (2013)

Achieving and getting Things Done (Installation, Sheffield 2011)

IMG_6097

40fa2-img_6107

In The City… (2011, ballpoint pen on paper, 115X100cm)

Just The Noise… (2014 exhibition flyer)

just-the-noise-1425x2000

The Planet’s Mental Illness (2012, ballpoint pen on paper, 105X150cm)

The Planet's Mental Illness (for whitewall) (1512x2000)

…Coils Tightening (2014, mixed media on paper, 100X125cm)

...Coils Tightening (2014) (1280x1034)P1010009

A Cognitive Austerity (2015, ink on paper, A4)

A Cognitive Austerity

Untitled (2014, ink on paper, A4)

01.09.20142

Mind Camp (2013, mixed media on paper, 105x155cm)

Mind Camp for prints (2061x3000)

Mind Camp (3435x5000) (2)

Disintegration (2013, A4, mixed media on paper)

Disintegration

Feverish (2014, ballpoint pen on paper, 135x95cm)

Feverishclose 1

Untitled (2013, ink on paper, A4)

July 2013

Not Humanly Possible (2015, ink on paper, A4)

IMG_20150302_0001 (978x1400)

The Place of Dead Ends (2013, mixed media on paper, 100x125cm)

The Place of Dead Ends (2013)the (3)

Hyper-Malaise (2014, ink on paper)

hyper_mailaise__2014__by_johnledger

Global Ghetto, 2045, Marks The Centenary of The Defeat of Fascism (2010/11, 105X140, ballpoint pen on paper)

Global Ghetto, 2045, Marks The Centenary of The Defeat of Fascism (2000x1403)

Whilst We Were in The Eternal Now... (2014, mixed media on paper, 95X125cm)

Whilst We Were In The Eternal Now...

The Mary Celeste Project [The Scene of The Crash] (2014, video)

The Mary Celeste Project (The Scene of The Crash) from john Ledger on Vimeo.

My 2014

…the most valued stuff that I spent my life on during the months from January to December. I’d love to be able to announce an ambiguity to the numbers that dominate our society,  but I am a self-confessed walking hourglass of a human, who watches the passing of years with sad eagle eyes. Anyway, what makes me feel more brighter is looking at what I’ve done from within this socially-constructed perception of time… I don’t even want to think about 2015 right now.

.

Artworks:

Progress… (100X150cm, ballpoint pen on paper)

Progress... (2013-2014)

Progess… (John Ledger)

Progress... - Copy

Enter a caption

A Privatised Implosion (21X28cm, ink on paper)

A Privatised Implosion (908x1280)

Hyper-Malaise (ink on paper)hyper_mailaise__2014__by_johnledger…Coils Tightening (125X100cm. ballpoint pen and collage on paper)...Coils Tightening (2014) (1280x1034)

P1010009

Just The Noise… (exhibition)

Just The Noise... (1425x2000) (730x1024)

P1010002

Untitled (ballpoint pen on paper) untitled (2014)Five Years Drowning (exhibition)FLYER with text (862x1280)

P1010109

Whilst We Were All In The Eternal Now…. (ballpoint pen and collage on paper, 95X125cm)

Whilst We Were All In The Eternal Now  (1959x3000) (836x1280)

P1010253

Untitled (ink on paper)

01.09.20142.

The Mary Celeste project (The Scene of The Crash) video-work

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/108876067″>The Mary Celeste Project (The Scene of The Crash)</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user18137640″>john Ledger</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

.

Feverish (ballpoint pen on paper, 90X140cm)

P1020584 (3000x1977)P1020575

Books:

Rebuilding The Flatttened

A Walk Down The Hallam Line: A Personal Account of The West Riding of Yorkshire

.

Map-Making:

Thurlstone Moor

2014 Map-making

.

Blog-writing:

The Blanket of malaise hanging over 2013. Can it be torn down in 2014?

Out of Time

The Outdoors Has Become The Factory

Songs That Evoke a World Once Imaginable – Animating Ghosts From The Past

Climate Change is NOW

The Parasites of Pessimism

The La’s (album), and The Plight of a Working Class City at The End of History

Pre-2008-Crash Time-Capsules

200 Year old Eyes

The X-Factor Society – Finding Ourselves Unwilling Participants

Moments When I Feel Almost Human

Entombed in Self-Centredness

The Strange Death of Grown-up Britain

Share The Pain

Progress…

Progress… 2013/14, biro on paper, 100X145cmProgress... (2013-2014)

Progress…

I’d prefer not to have to state that this title is meant to have an irony to it, but I probably need to, as part of the reason I chose it is because if it was used for a similarly-composed landscape drawing made 50-70 years ago I believe the title could have been used without irony – and legitimately-so. Today, however, capitalist growth no longer has energies, which were usually oppositional, incorporated in it or pulled alongside it, that could fuse capitalism’s energies with progress, making for a better civilisation.

The opposite could be said to be true, since we moved firmly into this era of global financial capitalism, legitimised by neoliberal (market fundamentalist) theory. A relentless eroding-away of the social contract that was built up over the last two centuries in the first industrial states to protect individuals from the extremes of capitalism’s boom/bust cycles and market dynamics. Alongside this is an almost universal disintegration of a picture of a future worth inhabiting (something that wasn’t the case in capitalist societies 50-70 years ago), as the violence of profit-thirsty growth brings human life into conflict with itself, the environment, and internally, through the invisible mental illness epidemic.

Image

The upwards-driven spiral in this drawing is two things at once. First of all it is an imaginary chronology of capitalism on planet earth, violently veering off a path made-steady by social and civic idealist demands and onto a hyper (‘feral’) capitalist path, severing its ties from reality, whilst dragging us all along with it. As, even though this is clearly a critique of what capitalism produces (and reduces things to), looking back at where this ‘break’ from what before occurred (at a series of points during the 1970’s and early 1980’s), I really do think that, despite the horrors its ‘invisible hand’ induced during the previous centuries, if we had transcended it at this stage, humanity could have taken stock of the then zenith of material plenty under capitalism, and said “we wouldn’t have what we have now without it, but now it is time to go beyond capitalism” (pretty much along the lines of what Karl Marx meant, that capitalism was the best thing and the worst thing to happen to humanity).

But at this very moment when I firmly believe profit-motivated dynamics were no longer needed, (at least here in the west) a progressive program should have been introduced to help us beyond capitalism (and according to Doreen Massey, what is forgotten by history is that there was plenty of ideas about how to do this). However, a trick was played on social evolution. And in hindsight we can see that although individuals were demanding more autonomy and individual freedom, we (to use a Will Self analogy) had “accepted a Trojan horse” gift; the ruling class had staged an ambush. This isn’t conspiracy theory: it’s about one class (the ruling class) working collectively to regain the ability to organise society in the way they thought it needed to organising. What we thus received was an even more ruthless, sociopathic capitalism, with diminishing social alternatives standing in its way, globally.

Image

The second thing this upwards spiral shows is the social and environmental gradient, that gets harsher and more brutal towards the bottom, where so much is reduced to waste, both in economical and ecological meanings of the word. The protestant work-ethic has an increasingly religious grip over us (a violent dislike of the unemployed has emerged); it isn’t a coincidence that this is happening the same time as so many human beings are becoming surplus to needs of capitalism, no longer needed to exploit their labour, and are falling from all security nets towards an existence of utter destitution and state-sanctioned repression. As economist Guy Standing pointed out in his talk at the Leeds Tetley gallery, the UK Tory MP, Iain Duncan Smith (a figurehead for this extreme enforcement of the religion of work, work, work) has in speeches more or less repeated the same words that, written in German, were above the gates of one of western civilisation’s most extreme outcomes: “arbeit Macht Frei” (“work makes you free”), which was above the entrance to the Auschwitz death camp. But, without forgetting that the vulnerable/voiceless always get smashed first in such a system (the poor, the minorities, plant and animals life), let us not forget, that with total collapse of civilisation, which the dynamics currently driving will sometime no doubt lead to, no one is spared; all in this drawing are vulnerable, eventually, within this upwards spiral.

Up is also down in this drawing. The system, as much as it accelerates – faster and faster , also just accelerates entropy. It only reproduces itself as it drags everything crashing down to a primordial ‘dustland’. Capitalism works fine, whilst putting everything else into crisis, until there is nothing left to put into crisis. Indeed, the only buildings/objects visible in the ‘dustland’ within this drawing are icons from a time when civilisation could be said to be progressing – when our past believed in a future; space shuttles from a time when our frontier was space and not the inverted privatisation of our biology; symbols of times when an alternative world seemed on the horizon; towers and buildings for cities for citizens rather than cities for finance and elites.

Progress... - Copy (2)

The use of red pen colour always seems appropriate when depicting a landscape that shows a civilisation/a humanity/a planet running out of time. Perhaps it makes me think of the ‘red planet’ – Mars; earth’s next door neighbour in the Solar System. Mars is certainly a red barren ‘dustland’ and is also what the originator of the Gaia hypothesis, James Lovelock, argues could be the fate of planet earth if we make it so that earth’s co-operating eco-systems are no longer able to enable that thing we we call ‘the living planet’.

In fact, keeping in tune with the talk of Space and the planets here, you could interpret progress… as capitalism (and the generations of humans at its mercy) embodied as a space shuttle; elevating itself on the planet’s stored-up energies; veering off track and dragging  life (displaced and dismembered) with it, needing it as it bleeds it, like ripping a plant from the soil and then leaving it on the surface to starve of nutrients as ‘surplus to requirements’. And then add to this the powerful instrumental music piece evoking time speeding up, and then crashing, from Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of The Moon, which will forever be the music that reminds me of the conception of this drawing, and you’ll maybe know, more or less where I’m coming from.

Progress... - CopyP1000556

The Outdoors Has Become The Factory

ImageThe outdoors has become the factory. It has become that inhospitable environment that people were once relieved to clock off from. A few straggling pedestrians are battered by the production-line-motion of road transport noise, violent to the senses; repetitive noises once the preserve of the heavy industries and 20 century-style wars; floodlights that obliterate all vision on poorly lit streets; a ‘get-out-my-way’ speed that keeps the pedestrians obediently on their toes; and warning signs/CCTV cameras (that may or may not have human eyes behind them) instilling into them a need for even more obedience –  “don’t loiter; get on with what you should be doing”(usually consuming).

People, mainly in cars, or zoned out from others on express train commutes with all sensory organs focusing on screens/plugged into machines. The social/The outdoors: a gauntlet, a place to spend minimal possible time in. People so inconvenienced, anxious, exhausted and alone, from living in what Will Self calls ‘the Man-machine Matrix’ (which  requires increasingly more energy, enthusiasm, commitment from them) react to such circumstances by attempting to build private spaces of maximum available satisfaction. Private bunkers proliferate as hasty attempts to close the door of the outdoors in order to cling onto spaces of lonely enjoyment abandon the outdoors to the human waste of noise pollution, light pollution and the frustration from unsatisfactory private bunker moments that overspills into threats of violence on the streets.

Image

Headphones, that damage the ear drums with ‘chosen’ noise, block out the otherwise inescapable noise of traffic. But the pedestrian can’t escape the horizontal-shower of blinding lights in a wintertime rush hour. Watching a road at rush hour is like a process in a production-line or automated factory. All of us, frustratingly one at a time, in an urge to get to the master private bunker; our home. Everybody is out and moving; moving alone. An army of ants who have all been coaxed and conditioned by the religion of self.

People increasingly stressed and short of time, are constantly fighting against the rising tide of ‘inconveniences’; they are constantly thinking “don’t take away my valued private space for enjoyment; don’t infringe on my little moment of leisure time” and you witness adults kick up a child-like fuss when their private moment “to do what they wish” is subjected to a gate-crashing. (but yet a child-like response is expected from a people who have no collective/or social space, but only their private bunkers).

Image

The pedestrian’s experience of this noisy and thankless environment is probably more specific to the outer-city road networks and the sprawling sleeping suburbs that bleed off them, than the central zones of the country’s largest city sprawls. Few spaces outside our front doors in the sprawling suburbs are places you’d want to remain static in; constantly experiencing the hasty gust of traffic, whispering “come on, move on, hurry up!” in your ear.

Social space becomes more arid and desert-like under this prevailing viral logic. The seed of ‘market individualism’ planted by ideas under the umbrella of Thatcherism and Reaganism, grew like a tree seed between the bricks of socially-progressive modernism, shattering the old ideas of a better world; it’s branches extending and its roots sinking into more and more aspects of life. But here I wish only to think about one aspect: how the factory-like environment of harsh and relentless noises and sounds, and the violence of disciplinary impositions dealt through surveillance (historically situated in workplaces and prisons) have filled the streets. That they have filled the streets due to our only use for them in the past quarter of a century being ‘rat-runs’ to and from our private bunkers.

Image

However, there is now a net hemorrhaging of people from the comfort blankets that the private bunker provides, and it just cannot be ignored; the comfort blankets posses people with a sense that it is safer and surer to stay tucked inside this dominant ideological model (as if it was a spaceship promising us safe landing if we stay on board). Without this blanket maybe there will be a changing use of the outdoors again. But it is too soon to say if this will occur, or whether those decreasing few who still feel they have an investment in this system will increasingly make the outdoors look more ghetto-like, as they make fortresses out of their homes and cars, protected by state mechanisms increasingly hostile to the outdoors as the state itself falls deeper into crisis. But this particular blog isn’t the place to discuss this in detail; I’ve already said what I needed to say right now.

Just where the hell are we in time?

IMG_8690

That my life doesn’t seem to grow and change is because time itself doesn’t seem to move things on anymore.

Oh yes, things change, but it’s as if the entire world is speeding up its exchanging and obtaining of things already bygone. And when all that happens is that things are circulated faster and faster, little of it seems to have any substance. When one thinks of our present time and what could be seen as new, one thinks of applications, social-media sites; they don’t bring anything new into the world they just stretch out and speed up the circulation of everything that’s already happened in our civilisation (recent technological advances merely turn the world into one giant tin of old photo’s, and all we do as a culture now is constantly browse that tin).

I have never found myself able to allow myself to leave my teenage physique and demeanor behind. Reality would show that I have left it behind, but it doesn’t stop the need to maintain what has already gone.I cling to a past that retroactively becomes more and more massive, as a future never seems conceivable. The more I speak to others (although it is played out in different ways) the more I realised it wasn’t specific to myself.

That I make sure that I can still fit into (some) size 30 waist jeans is merely reflective of a culture that continuously makes sure it can still riff on the past. According to The independent newspaper,  the United Kingdom, in terms of soft power (or cultural capital) is ranked as the most influential nation in the world, and if there was ever a nation that has continuously managed to riff on its past (whether the royal spectacles or re-hashes of the same British rock group formula every 5 or so years) it’s the United Kingdom.

Image

+We are trapped in a cultural logic that believes nothing can be done to shape and make a new world. Because of this we are held to ransom by the logic of a system that told us its world is the only world. Our culture has nowhere to turn, and as this systemic logic brings the world into farce, we look further and further backwards, in order to grasp something that we feel we can control, in order to stay sane.

I would speculate that with every crisis the capitalist system has produced this side of the year 2000 that it further entrenches this immersion in things of the past (albeit with modern devices that we rarely try to rationalise). The legitimacy of the system has been smashed by farce after farce; we know we it is failing us, but we cannot perceive away around it, so our world is built out of a past that we can control and predict.

Image

Because we can’t face up to the present, or even acknowledge it, time feels out of joint. This disjunction between time and our experience can be unnervingly evident in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. Dotted around every urban settlement up and down the U.K are, what I call, ‘Mary Celeste‘ Developments; never completed housing estates, barred off by metal barriers, and skeletal structures which are frozen in their foetal position. Precisely because we are culturally unable to face up to the present, we usually walk past these spaces and instantly forget about them. But if we make a conscious effort to observe them  we are confronted with the disconcerting fact the the financial crisis began half a decade ago, when it doesn’t feel long ago at all. It only feels like it happened a few weeks back, and everything at these construction sites stands, waiting to resume business, as if it were only a temporary blip.

Image

Because we have found ourselves at our cultural dead end (or at least at a blockage in the pipelines of time) the world hasn’t been able to come to terms with the truth that the world has been irreversibly changed from that day on. We can’t really picture the world as it actually is, now, because it gives us the sensation of already being dead, and having an after-death experience. So we wait for things to return to as they were; we wait and wait, and only rarely realise just how much time we have spent waiting.

It’s like we are the new Pompeii, but haven’t realised that we’ve been turned to stone and burried by the normal functioning of time. At times when we can passively flow through this world, without observing or experiencing the world-wide suffering that confirms that the world is still alive, one can be forgiven for at least imagining that the end of the world has already occurred, that we are literally spectres going through the motions unaware of being so, like the fate of the Characters in the film The Others, who do not realise that they are the ghosts haunting the living.

More people now dress like people from the past than the people who lived in them time-periods did. People in the 1960’s thought we’d be walking around in space-suits, but we actually walk around looking more like them than they did. More 1960’s than the 1960’s; more 1980’s than the 1980’s; we are more or less living in a simulation of the past, which helps keep us blind to ‘the desert of the Real’. This is the world of simulcra/hyperreality, understood well by the philosopher Jean Baudrillard in the 80’s and 90’s. Yet he makes it somewhat fantastical/exciting to read; it doesn’t feel like the bleak haunted house our post-recession culture occupies. The ghosts of the past are running out of energy just as we crave them the most; the music/pub/night-out scene which embalmed our culture with cheap drink is now often the arena where you feel most like you’re in spaces haunted by their past (empty pubs).

On a personal level, my predicament could be clumsily described by the previous generation as that of somebody who is “30 going on 18”, but the situation is far more serious. Much of the previous generation often refuse to acknowledge the reasons for this cultural inertia, because they grew up in a time when culture burst forward faster than anything before, only to exhaust itself in the form of tragic endings for many young pop icons. I have to ask myself whether I will be still heading to the “indie music” bars, not knowing where else to go, when I’m pushing 40. Experience of my past ten years, living in a culture that turned up the volume on its IPod every time news arrived of another crisis/catastrophe, is that doing so may be a necessary coping-method.

Exhibition in Austria

 
Nicholas Treadwell Gallery
Kirchengasse 4;  A – 4160   AIGEN;  AUSTRIA; Tel: +43 (0) 7281 20000 or Mobile: +43 (0)664 3449543

 We Are Watching Ourselves Sink (2009)work16
This Hole Cannot Be Filled in a Car-Park Overspill (2008)This hole cannot be filled in a carpark overspill (2008) - biro on paper
People Factory (2008)
work26

Who Would Want To Listen To This? (2011/2012) Biro on paper, 130X100cm

Who Would Want To Listen To This? (2011/2012) Biro on paper, 130X100cm

Who Would Want To Listen To This

The piece is called ‘Who would want listen to this?’ because such big threats of an ecological collapse which would cause unimaginable disruption and destruction are often too frightening for us to think about (only previously seen by our eyes on cinema screens), so instead we pretend that ‘someone will sort it for us when push comes to shove’ or we even coax ourselves into believing that it can’t actually be happening (I’ve heard people, who once agreed that climate change was being caused by humans, go back on themselves saying ‘how can one species do so much damage to such a big planet?’ – comforting lies). We would rather not listen to it when a friend in our company starts talking about it, or when it is on the TV.

But we are not to blame for feeling so powerless to do anything.

As well as causing this problem, the human system of capitalism makes it seem impossible for us to do anything to stop climate change. It relies on competition between the most powerful nations in the world, rather than cooperation. And these nations are sewn together with the biggest corporations in the world; and corporations, by and large, don’t want us thinking that things such as climate change are happening, because to take any action to stop it would be bad for their business. And being the richest most powerful in the world, they get their way. As things stand THEY are in control of the direction the human world takes.

So we feel powerless, and try to focus on smaller thing instead, we try to forget. Climate change just adds more and more weight to the feeling that everything is out of control and feelings of powerlessness to do anything about it, which is the reality of living under the global capitalist system. So focussing on smaller things, focussing on how to get through life, day to day, in the most bearable way is what most of us find is the only thing we can do.

In the drawing every figure is wearing headphones. This relates to trying to block out the sound of things that are upsetting to us. It also relates a lot to the living in a time where we have access to so much technology to keep us entertained, or distracted, from the real world. I have mixed feelings about technology; I think what the internet offers to us as a species is amazing, and it could be said to be one of the greatest inventions ever. Yet accessories such as mobile phones, Facebook can throw us into a continuous detachment from what’s really happening in the world around us, distracting us, as we are constantly in trying to get other people to speak to us and like us through them, as the popularity of these accessories means people are increasingly alone, communicating from box rooms and lonely bus rides, and lonely people feel insecure and continually seek company. These figures, who are blocking their eyes to the problems around them, aren’t bad people, but are finding themselves more and more consumed in a technological world, that promises so much but never really fulfils.

The people behind the speaking booth-like things are the political/capitalist class. They are equally wired up, with head phones, communicating through cyberspace. They believe in the fantasy that capitalist ‘growth’ can go on forever, and they chase growth like addicts, smiling with Cheshire cat grins when they say the word ‘growth’. They are ‘supposed’ to be the people to lead the citizens to safety and better lives, but they are desperately clinging on to hopes that become more impossible every day. Feeling powerless, we leave it to leaders of governments and capitalism to guide us, but they are even more detached from the real world than everybody else, and they guide us towards a dangerous future. The need for distraction and denial of the truth keeps growing.

I wanted the entire landscape to look like a rock in an empty space, a bit like planet earth in space. But I want this rock to look to have a similarity to a human hand; a human hand that is veering into the dark, into a void, into non-existence. The closer one gets to the fingertips of the hand, the more the landscape is being destroyed, being torn to pieces. This represents two different moments in time; the moment which are at now, when it is the poorest people in the world who suffer the most from the effects of climate change, largely caused by the richest parts of the world (and the most power institutions which come from these places), and a future moment when this becomes the reality for all of humanity, if we don’t change course – direct the human hand away from its route into non-existence.

who-would-want-to-listen-tothis-1280x1066