The last 10 days of political turmoil in the UK has plunged us in to an unprecedented period of apparent chaos. We’ve ejected ourselves from our European counterparts, hurled our two main parties into leadership uncertainty and contest, highlighted major divisions across the nation and left 75% of our youth who voted for “Remain” feeling betrayed and deprived of a future they thought would look very different. With three young voters in our family alone our collective shock on that dismal Friday was palpable. We tried to understand the enormity of the news as we heard it.
“What’s happened?” was a question I was asked by friends outside of the UK.
It was difficult to answer, and I don’t intend doing so now. Tireless analysis has filled our ears and heads, outpourings of all kinds continue to emanate from our national news channels. The day after the result I missed my bus stop transfixed as I was by the haemorrhage of opinion flooding through social media. I was well on my way in the wrong direction before I even thought to look up.
Reactions in the art world are no different in their divisions – “business as usual” say the global collectors and auction houses – whilst acknowledging volatility in the financial markets may cause some fluctuations and a “few jolts”.
“the world isn’t moving backward, ….. We are moving backwards. Yesterday little England got a lot littler” said artist Ryan Gander to Artnet news
Artists, curators and galleries have shared their views and worries publicly just like everyone else – additionally concerned by the possible threat to the flow of European grants that currently arrive in the UK for the arts. European students help support our higher education establishments including the art colleges – with £3.7billion worth of revenue generated by EU students every year.
Still too many unknowns to know what’s next.
But a visit with various Collective members to the Royal Academy of Arts to see the final show of this year’s selected group of 17 post graduate students was a welcome reprieve from the ever gathering clouds of this unusually gloomy summer. It was refreshing to see a slice of some future emerging artists, wherever their journey might take them. For me, the video and animation was the highlight , and stood in stark contrast to the the 200 year old life drawing room that we stumbled across in the middle of the exhibition rooms. A great insight in to the long history of the Academy, now interwoven with techniques that bridge drawing with the digital age.
Elliot Dodd’s surreal animated heads on human figures having a conversation in their BMW in his 4K digital film Limpid and Salubrious, was so transfixing that one felt almost absorbed in to it.
Because of the need to make time to watch film, it is always difficult to see how they can best be seen and appreciated in a domestic setting for a Collective group such as ours. Art on walls or free standing sculptures you can absorb and walk around as part of daily living- but not so easy with film. Nevertheless there was an attraction that I found compelling.
Two friends, two curtains – Molly Palmers two channel HD video with sound had me sitting in the room watching for a while . Not easy to understand, I didn’t think that was the point, but more the connection with movement, colour, shapes and sound and how they interact together on screen for the viewer to interpret as they will.
Gery Georgieva was my other top attraction with her multimedia installation. She uses her own Bulgarian roots to explore cultural identities and pop cultures, often using herself as the main subject on which she builds her creativity. The main projection spilled over the screen to the wall behind whilst two other screens displayed different topics including the view from behind a windscreen as it was being washed.
Finally I must mention Kira Freije’s installation A Rapid Succession of Noises That You Confuse For Danger – in fact a room full of steel sculptures and structures, that had an eerie and sinister quality despite the bright white walls and fine steel parts. Particularly intriguing was the kneeling Holy Woman which brought a smile to my face as I thought of the life size sculptures we’ve had in our house and the reaction they invoked. I tried imagining how this might go down….sitting with us in the living room..
There was more, so much more from these 17 Royal Academy students.
As we left the academy at the end of the evening and headed off to have a drink I knew what the topic of conversation was likely to be. But at least I felt some restoration of spirit as I looked in from the shadows at some bright futures.