Group art exhibition
Curated by Globalsapiens
C.A.D.S. – 7 Smithfield, Sheffield
Date: Friday 6th July – 18th July 2012
“It is the psychological effects of technological, social and environmental developments I am interested in.” JG Ballard
To question the environment around us, to take a step back and create reality in a world ruled by fictions. Is this the artist’s true role?
Bordeline Ballardian is an exhibition of works that questions and observes British society and the psychological effects of technological, social and environmental developments.
The word ‘Ballardian’ originates from the works of British novelist, James Graham Ballard and is defined as resembling or suggestive of the conditions described in Ballard’s novels and stories, especially a dystopian modernity, bleak man-made landscapes and the psychological effects mentioned above.
Ballard’s novels, classed as science fiction are now seeming to resemble the real more than ever, as our 21st century lives hurtle towards huge environmental and psychological uncertainties.
Reckless industrial growth is slowly killing the planet, as air and Water is polluted and littered, food is grown chemically and unsustainably, and oceans are turned into acid pools. What little democratic rights we have are being shaken to their core by the intertwined forces of runaway capitalism and the nation state, which require nothing more of us than alienated consumers. We are stolen and then sold back as make up and fashion.
All this certainly Sounds like a Ballard novel to me… But do we ever ask ourselves the question, in all seriousness “could the world I’m living in now be rightly classed as dystopian?” It can be hard to the see the world for what it truly is whilst you’re in the midst of it.
The exhibition aims to take a step back, observe and inform.
When creating a mental picture for the exhibition, I thought of how I would like union jack flags to spread out like strands of a web from sources representing their most trusty servants for welding them to our thoughts; the televised and newspaper media.
I imagined the web spreading to provide an unwanted ceiling haloing the critical matters expressed in the art pieces. I thought that a net over the work would resemble the anti-boarding netting so crucial in the fate of the Mary Rose warship. The Mary Rose sank just south of Portsmouth when England’s empire was in its infancy. The anti-boarding netting, covering the deck, prevented most of the ship’s crew from surviving the sinking.
I wanted to document all of the physical injuries I got over a one-year period due to my interest in how the body reacts to the outside world
in the form of cuts, bruises blisters etc. After a while waiting consciously and eagerly to start the project I realised that my instincts, which quite sensibly stop me hurting myself, hindered my ability to make the work and were ultimately counter productive in the creation of it. So to forge them was the only way to make them. The injuries were created as opposed to being the product of destruction or damage and with the creation of them I have achieved the same result.
The outdoors is instinctually seen as dirty, chaotic and dangerous and the interior as clean, controlled, and safe. The negative connotations of the exterior or chaos relate to the pain or damage it may cause us and ultimately its threat to our survival. Shelter has enabled us to control our environment and privacy in order to reduce the fear of the harm that the outside world can do to us physically and psychologically. Injuries are a way of the body recording the experience of braving the “elements”, of interacting with the exterior “chaos”, when conquering the great outdoors. To control the outdoors’ interaction with myself is a way of controlling chaos.
The theory of Hegemonic Masculinity is the belief in a “normal” ideal of male behaviour where males dominate other males and subordinate females by use of exaggerated aggressiveness, strength, drive, ambition, stamina and self-reliance.
These traits are often instinctually desirable to females as they make the likelihood of the survival of their offspring higher. In Western society which has advanced healthcare and a more controlled environment men rely less on these characteristics for survival and thus, to secure a mate. Men lacking in these traits have less testosterone so are desirable in Western society due to their reliability as they are not as likely to seek adventure or other mates.
In many African countries “macho” men are more widely sought after as life expectancy, medicine and hygiene is less advanced. When a woman in Western Society who is usually attracted to the “reliable” male is ovulating, instinctually, she will often find the strong, aggressive man attractive due to the “macho” traits he will pass onto her offspring.
If injuries are often the result of risk taking, to record my injuries and display them publicly is a way of showing that I am a risk taker and therefore proves that I am strong, brave and manly. In faking them I have gained the “positive” image of machismo through fakery. To fake injuries is mocking the need to be seen as heroic. It devalues it as it has been achieved by underhand means. It suggests that these injuries were acquired in a “heroic” way when in fact, that they are fraudulent devalues the respect and meaning of bravery affiliated with the conquering of the great outdoors.
*all make up very kindly created by Nia Vernon who can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and who can do all sorts of things. http://www.facebook.com/#!/album.php?aid=323059&id=877485393
As the subjects are faceless it makes it easier for the audience to relate to them leading to the question, does the male audience relate and feel uncomfortable at me speculatively putting them into this context of “prey” or object of homosexual desire? Are they offended? Do they now question their own sexuality? Or my morality? Or both?
Does being forced into staring at the crotches of other men make them feel uncomfortable? If so why? Did I get away with not being punched because men don’t expect to be preyed upon in this way? Does this idea that men don’t expect to be preyed upon relate to their homophobia? That unless they are the subject of this objectification they do not find it offensive? Is this because they cannot empathise with those who are sexually preyed upon, i.e: women? Is this why the conviction rates in rape cases are so low? Or why when they are objectified by a gay man often they lash out in fear?
From a woman’s perspective, does a female viewer feel uncomfortable being forced to look? Do they feel more comfortable in doing so as it does not offend their machismo pride? Or more uncomfortable because women are not used to being so predatory? Because they’re used to being submissive to men, whereas most men are not?
Does the audience feel as though they will be judged by those around them (the other viewers) for watching these films? Or does the fact that they are watching the films with others reassure them, like Sartre’s bad faith?
The film makes men powerless, like they make the viewer powerless as it forces both into a situation where they are to be judged and to feel uncomfortable.
The film depicts men with their legs publicly wide open. To spread ones legs is submissive if one is female, but in a social masculine context it is a display of power. A display of the size and virility of their manhood. They are in effect, inviting me to look. How much of this body language is conscious? How much does it reflect on their personalities? To turn the subject from this into a powerless, submissive object of male homosexuality has the potential to be very disturbing to a male viewer.
Alternatively, women are taught to sit with their legs closed. The very word Vagina often makes women and men uncomfortable to utter out loud. It is a “hidden” organ to be protected and possessed and is a symbol of the woman and her suppressed history.
How about if these films were of women’s crotches? Would the work be seen as more controversial? I think so, as the person filming them is male and predatory, and due to society’s sexist obsession with protecting women and the vulnerability of women in general. For example, if a woman is murdered the press will generally cover the story for a longer period as opposed to when a man is murdered.
If I was female making these films how would the reaction to them differ? To a man, men are predominantly predatory historically and sexually so if a woman was making these films do they pose a threat to a man’s masculinity? These films would put men into a role submissive to a woman. To a woman these films may be seen as more humorous in that “diet Coke” kind of male objectification which does not seem as offensive as a man objectifying a woman.
Much like a feminine man being labelled as homosexual or the general assumption that most cross dressers are gay, if the male assumes a feminine, submissive role or feminine characteristic i.e. wearing makeup, wearing women’s clothes or being sexually submissive to another man they are labelled as weak, not a real man or a “poofter” by other more “manly” men.
Would a woman be more objective to “Gay” because it does not directly involve her gender? Or do they relate to the film by putting themselves into the familiar feminine role of being objectified and find the works equally as shocking? Is a man’s fearful/angry reaction to these films seen as a come-uppance by a woman? Or is “Gay” just an example of another disturbing objectification that women have to deal with everyday? Some women see male homosexuality as offensive and wrong, which comes from to the male’s dominance in influence throughout history of societal norms and thus on the female opinion, so therefore some women may find these films just as offensive as men do.
Also if these films HAD been made by a woman would some men and women feel the opposite? Would they feel arousal? And would this arousal relate to the voyeuristic risk taken or the reversal of gender roles?
In various points in history homosexuality has been labelled as perversion with gay men being imprisoned due to its illegality. To highlight that these films are a gay or “perverted” obsession adds to the intrusiveness and violation of the subjects.
To place ourselves into the public eye leaves us open to, and submissive to, a certain amount of scrutiny and objectification through the other’s judgement of us. So the objectification in these films of the subject in a public place is hardly surprising as we cannot control what others think of us. We can conform to a pre packaged “norm” in order to stand out less and leave less to be judged for, to blend in, but we will always be objectified by others as they do not know our complexities and so we are reduced down to categories and labels.
The fact that the film is made up of many smaller films of many different crotches related to the idea that repetition offers proof, much like in the context of a scientific experiment. Or does this repetition desensitise the audience to being offended by homosexuality and perversion and voyeurism?
There is a humorous aspect to “Gay” in that it deals with taboos and in the audacity and causality that I have made them in public with threat of reprimand and possibly violence. Do the audience wonder how I got away with making these films?
This also projects onto the viewer in that not only are they being put into the position of the film maker but are encouraged to stare and, in effect, use their imagination in the same contemplative and perverse way.
Ultimately, as the films are shot in an everyday situation and depict real people the audience will be able to relate to the subjects. As well as this, in comparison to the audience being confronted with images of actual nudity, they have to use their imagination as to why the films are perverse and the imaginative input on their part involves them in the violation. Does it make them exactly the same as the “pervert” behind the camera?
<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/27343978″>Golau Glau – Trailer for ‘HENRY (The Methods Of Ethics 2011)’ BEACONS festival</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/golauglau”>Golau Glau</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
Harrowdown Hill, Thom Yorke
oil on canvas
The implications of living in such a commercially driven society are that one’s personality is chopped, diced, and edited, until it is able to fit in to the slots created by a society that has become more and more homogenous as commerce prospers in a global community, where the means to distribute information are owned by so few: the pressures to conform to a whole manner of conventions are immense. My capacity for developing, re-learning and growing is massively constricted as the domestication into a system-friendly, ‘able and flexible’ adult, takes up more of the free mental spaces which allow my development as a human. The intensity caused by trying to resist a barrage of pressures causes a mental debilitation, which ‘hammers one down’ weakening them into submission. A Final Acceptance, in order to stem mental debilitation, seems like the safest option.
(this piece is a clumbersome thing, but it had to be made this way)
Squealing like a pig at the birth of agriculture
Now I have to upkeep the cities for the sake of it
Dedicate my life to being seen to be anything but a failure
Success will be measured by my civilised endeavoursI daren’t throw it all away
Because it’s what my ancestors worked so hard for
To pass on the baton
Of maintaining all the trappings of our domestication
So I in turn can pass on the baton
Of maintaining all the trappings of our domestication
Bow down to the glory that is civilisationAnd you daren’t abandon it all
Because you might get eaten alive by wolves
Or held captive by bad men with guns
Who’d kill you, all your daughters and sons
That would be the end of your genetic legacy
You should have stayed in with safe ‘Sex and the City’
Behind plaster board, closed doors, carpet,
Brick walls, borders, and police patrols
Behind the fence, kept at arm’s length
From the lifestyle that had been lived by your own species
For a whole 2,500,000 years
Not the last puny 10,000
I’ve seen photographs of the wilderness
It looks like it goes on and on forever
But there’s nowhere left for me to hunt and gather
Because I am a suburbanite, a citizen
Locked into the misery and politics of maintenance
Time Hog snuffles and puffles
Indifferent to my indignance
It’s got minerals to mine
Precious metals to mould
Hospital equipment and eye phones to be sold
Just put it out of your mind
The wilderness is brutally, unforgivingly violent
As if the violence of civilisation is any more gentle
You can stay here on concrete if you like
But I’m going this is all mental.
by Nancy Richardson
Globalsapiens: an introduction to Parallel Paranoia, Humans In Cages and Silently Chained – the respective alternate names for artistic collective Mikk Murray, John Ledger and Jade Morris. Each artist has, at some point in life, stumbled across these titles and found them poetically fitting descriptions of their own predicament as young adults in the 21st century: tied to lifestyles that they know are destructive to the planet and most often self-destructive; struggling forwards from this, trying to find cracks in a hegemonic social landscape that drags humans toward an ultimate battle with nature that we are certain to lose.
Thus this show cannot be a means to an end for Globalsapiens: it has to be the start not the end; one of many ‘atoms for peace’, clustering together, always growing never standing still, until their shout is big enough to make one final stand against a world ruled by money. This exhibition aims to resonate with all those who care but feel trapped and helpless to make a change, and possibly then inspire them to believe that they need not feel trapped and helpless.
As a society, our actions, our expressions, our reactions, all show signs that we are aware of living in end times. Make no bones about it; no matter how much we talk about getting married, getting a house, settling down, we reek of a dying civilisation.
This exhaustion of everything in our merry-go-round swap between being the exploiter to the exploited has to end. Nobody can predict what ‘end’ we can expect, but we can guess what the prolongation of this current manmade nightmare will lead to. But we can also guess and hope; to hope that “surely this can’t be the end of the human story just yet…!” Grim resignation is dangerous; hope generates possibilities – but hope is sometimes hard for one to maintain.
Globalsapiens are artist’s who are desperately trying to find a way forward into a future worth living in. Our instinct is to express – we may not be the most pragmatic/practical people, but our contribution is a desperate attempt to realise a new way of living for the sake of the human race (sound self righteous? No: all species battle to maintain their existence). The time is right. Artists have no future in this old world, they must end their post idealist malaise/capitulation to the business mentality and join the cause to act now to make a future worth living in.
We felt aligned by a feeling that our artwork seems too driven, and too realmerely to be for exhibitions only – which often seem to just castrate it and make it nothing but mere consumer spectacle. This is a pressing concern that is played out within the show: we know that this is all our works may be, but we are still often driven by a powerful dream-boat of blind optimism that refers to the opposite, and seems to be generated by the ideological coding of the very system we are trying to help unwire. We want to help pave a way out of this bleak place our species (and the planet it has dragged down with it) has stumbled into, but we too often get too trapped in our minds to be/or do anything but what the system would happily have us be/doing – what keeps it thriving off human day-dreams and desires.
Nobody is in any place to preach. To resonate with others to generate in others. To alienate is to disintegrate. Let’s take the No Them, Only Us belief seriously again.
Human beings offer fundamentally special qualities to life on planet earth, and wherever else life may flourish. However, we are not better than the rest of life; if we were better we wouldn’t need it; but strip the life away from under our feet and we’d be dead before you could say the words ‘Easter Island’. Nevertheless, this is what out species is currently doing. But to say that we are a species of existential contradictions is to give up without even trying, and to let the idea of perpetual profiteering drag our eyes to the grey floor, where we watch our feet take one step at a time, in a potentially lethal small-world view. This exhibition wishes to contribute to the voices of reason in this time of collective insanity.
Inside Humans In Cages’ isolated cell
“Humans In Cages is feeling a little trapped, and without a vision of the future at present.”“The weekly ASDA shop likes this”
“The capitalist system still advances across the face of the planet, destroying the world that we depend on to survive, and pressing the boot further and further into our faces, as freedom/democracy become obstacles stood in the way which must also be destroyed. But here I languish; informed but passive; not knowing which foot to put in front of the other; so letting faint hopes of something better do the walking for me.
Here in my cell there will constantly remain the doubt that my artworks/artist shows may end up as nothing more than self-profiling within the capitalist dictatorship of individualism; the fetishisation of the self in the forced-competition of status advancement, based on the ultimatum of prosperity and a terror of failure. Thus, everything I have done within my isolated little world sometimes feels so counterproductive: that the truth may be that I am simply bolstering the realism of a system my work fundamentally opposes in its messages, by seeking recognition, and respect from it, for my individual endeavours.
I’ll do my best, but it’s hard trying to stop an exhibition become a means to an end from whereworking towards one final goal, (as anyone who as put on a major show will resonate with) leads to anti-climax, depression and a defeated-slump straight back into the realism of capitalism – to start right back at the beginning, but with less time than before.”
Achieving And Getting Things Done (installation)
Inside Silently Chained’s isolated cell
They all smiled gingerly and meekly.
Had they simply forgotten, or had they never known anyway? I guess it is neither.
They’re neither alive nor gone.
Not until the hour of the moon crosses the path of the sun.
Then they will know, and they will realise, what they had known all along.
But for now, it is too late. Too late. Too late?
Inside Parallel Paranoia’s isolated cell
This painting (above) is from a series of works called Where have all the bees gone? Where a parallel universe was created to highlight the importance of bees to the ecosystem and our food supply. Without the bees that pollinate roughly a third of our food crops there would be less food around. The chain reaction could be devastating to the human race and all life on Earth. The disappearance and death of bees or Colony Collapse Dissorder (CCD) as it is somethimes known is puzzling scientists and researchers still with mites and pesticides being the main concerns.
In the parallel universe the bees have been lured into a lab by a mad scientist and experiments have taken place. For some reason the scientist becomes psychically connect to the bees and finds they will do as he wishes. The scientist sets about creating his own Utopian vision. Using the soldier bees to hold the planet under siege and turn things around. Food, shelter and equality for all. Harmony with all living creatures and the landscape the ultimate goal. Organic produce, waste reduction, ocean cleanups, knowledge and wisdom passed on to all. The trouble was the scientist did such a great job that he became some sort of a celebrity. A leader and ultimately was devoured by power and greed. Alan is a dog and he spends most of his time walking around in his horse suit. Alan is the mad scientist’s best friend. The horse suit is an extension of Alan and his status/power and also the scientist’s eccentricity. The portrait of Alan was painted by Mikk for the Scientist in 2027. “I didn’t have a choice!” he said.
Many of our endeavours are maintained by reliance on oil. Many of our endeavours are purely narcissistic – taught by the system to be so. Reflecting on this can sometimes make one see their own ‘achievements’ in a very different light. And is it really that precious? (this piece was once used in a Seawhite Of Brighton arts suppliers brochure, not black gooey paint, with a look of oil about it, drips down it).
Parallel Paranioa is in the process of filling up a paddling pool with needless consumer plastic waste. In another water filled area (The Pacific Ocean) a floating island of plastic trash twice the size of Texas is currently existing.
Pandemic-Sheffield! Plague breaks out!!!
Note from self outside the cell to self inside the cell…
In the summer of 1944 delegates from 44 countries met in the midst of World War 2 to reshape the world’s financial system. The location of the meeting – in rural Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, USA – was designed to ensure that the delegates would have no distractions, and no pressure from lobbyists or congressmen, as they worked on their plans for post-war reconstruction. The New Hampshire Bretton Woods is part of a land grant made in 1772 by royal governor John Wentworth, which he named after his ancestral home (West) Bretton, in Yorkshire, England.
In the summer of 2011, Globalsapiens met in the midst of a global meltdown (financially, environmentally and socially) to throw around their own ideas of making a better world, with changes being needed now more than ever – A HUGE ALTERATION IS NEEDED. The location of the meeting – In rural Bretton woods in West Bretton, Yorkshire, England – is a symbolic gesture: the USA Bretton woods conference reshaped the world after the war, to prevent the problems (financial crisis’s for example) which led to the war; shaping the world for the past 60+ years, and beginning global capitalism as we know it today.
We need a Bretton woods conference now! Not to reinstate capitalism but to figure out how we can move beyond it. The sources of power whom we would usually assign these tasks to have gone insane; a systemic press-ganging on anything which tries to halt the forces of big business – which leaves this conference to people assumed-powerless like us (Globalsapiens). In this mock-version of an all-important conference, we will speak about, and demand a better world; suggesting, through the thoughts and words they never speak, both what these all-important meetings should really be about, and also emphasising what is more important; assigning the decision making to the assumed-powerless.
Opening days Thursday – Sunday, 12-4pm.
Photographs from Ill-Equipped, an exhibition @Access space, Sheffield
A thanks to the people at Access Space for giving me the chance to put this show on. It’s been really good to see these works behind an active environment. Access Space is located on Sidney Street, just a few minutes walk leftwards out of the Sheffield Train Station.
“Access Space is an inclusive environment. As well as working with artists, academics, creative technologists, programmers, other professionals and students, 50% of the participation in Access Space’s activities are from people in danger of exclusion and on the margins of society, including: people with disabilities, homeless people, ex-offenders, asylum seekers, refugees and people with mental health issues. Through Refab Space, Access Space engages with self starters and entrepreneurs as well. One of the strengths of Access Space is that it brings people from different backgrounds together.”
The exhibition was named after the drawing Ill-Equipped, a work that deals with the affect on subjectivities in an world where almost every aspect of life is becoming penetrated/mediated by cyberspace technologies, leaving us ‘always on’. But more crucially what does to our ability to truly develop an understanding of the big issues facing us in the 21st century.
John Ledger, Richard Kitson, Louise Wright, Mikk Murray, Jade Morris
22 July – 14 Aug (Thurs – Sun)
Hive Gallery, Elsecar Heritage Centre, Barnsley, S74 8HJ
Open evening: Friday 22 July, 7 – 9pm
This exhibition brings together a collection of young local artists who are heavily dependent on the practice of drawing, or even work primarily through it. The artists all live or were raised in the Barnsley area.
A collective who, through degrees of separation, share friendships and common interests, and this is a great chance to show to the rest of the area that is has a strong community of artists.
The artists use drawing for very different purposes, whether for understanding, for relaxation, exploration, the projecting of messages and even the exorcism of burning thoughts. All of them use it as a voice, perhaps their strongest voice.