KAHOON II/II: WORD OF MOUTH is supported by Arts Council England and Oxford Brookes University.

For the Kahoon artist residency at SET I made a film and associated event. My film, entitled Manoeuvres, explores contemporary experiences of working culture through a roaming atmospheric landscape and was created in collaboration with artist Tommy Chavannes. I created the exhibition Word of Mouth (6/07/2019- 26/07/2019) in collaboration with Mitchell Vowles (who screened his film ‘It’s still banging in 2019’).

See here for more information about the residency: http://www.setspace.uk/kahoonprojects/#Kahoon2

Below is the statement I wrote about the work which featured on the back of a poster that could be taken home by visitors.

The film is viewable online (click here)

There is also a QR code on the poster which takes scanners to a subtitled version of the film (click here)

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It all started when…

The Way Things Go (1987) by Swiss artists Fischli and Weiss followed a seemingly endless causal chain reaction of objects and elements. The subsequent Honda car advertisement, The Cog (2003), set up the illusion of causation. In disregarding the need for the chain to actually function, The Cog is indicative of a shift from industry to an experience economy. The impact of this cultural shift is evident in how we consume creative experiences (which are a significant component of cultural and economic life). Visiting an exhibition is a creative experience where the viewer primarily takes home an experience that is more connected to personal enrichment and community benefit than material services. This poster and statement acts as a memento that you are invited to take home.

To create Manoeuvres I spent a number of months seeking voices to examine issues connected with social mobility. By exploring the experiences of a former colleague at Swindon College (Louis Castle) I discovered a strong overlap between our inclusive, pedagogical approaches and attitude towards creative freedom. In meeting Swindon college student Robbie Eatwell, I gained insight into a more youthful perspective on these ideas and practices.

We hear Louis and Robbie describe how modifying cars was not only a determining process of self-schooled ingenuity, but a portal into a range of creative subcultures. Their skilful manoeuvres around the pressures of working culture also reveal the limitations of institutional education in adapting to the gig economy.  

Like many towns, Swindon is a place where trickle-down economics has proved a leaky reality. Once famous for railways (and more recently for the impending closure of the Honda car factory) Swindon is a relic of industrialisation in the process of adapting to a new era. It is also the seat of a very ancient kingdom: Wiltshire, a place that has been and is witness to free parties and raves, Druidical and New Age gatherings, and car meets.

In 1999 and 2002 Swindon was denied city status. The council determined that reapplying in 2012 would not be within the economic interests of the town. There are a few galleries in Swindon and grass roots discussion of using boarded-up shops as cultural venues, but the most famous attraction in Swindon remains the STEAM museum (which harks back to the days of the railway). This reflects how creative experiences are not yet promoted as an important part of cultural or economic life in Swindon.

For Marx, mechanised and stratified society enforced self-alienation. Manoeuvres journeys through an expansive landscape that could seem alienating. The ambiguous and staged sites in the film recall repurposed industrial spaces (evoking free parties and clubs) in a humorous way and invite us to reconsider alienation in a slightly different light.

Collaboration is an intrinsic part of my process and I shot and edited Manoeuvres with filmmaker and collage artist Tommy Chavannes. Riffing off my collection of car adverts, car meet and Video Jockey footage, Tommy then generated the animated graphics using his cut-up collage aesthetic.  

The music accentuates the psychological and emotional experiences Louis and Robbie relate to us and breaks into the narrative in a way that mirrors counter-culture and underground activity. I downloaded the music from an online platform that describes itself as an audio resource and musicians’ community. This attitude towards free sharing of samples and collaborative movement of material is redolent of the free party culture the music pays homage to. This poster evokes the promotional souvenirs of Super Clubs and was created in close collaboration with Pablo Molina Larrosa (a community-engaged graphic designer from SET).

I organised a car meet and community BBQ on 23rd June 2019 with and for diverse people from the local community. Louis Castle drove from Gloucester with another member of his car club, Modified Mercs, and installed their modified cars in the gallery space. The traces of this event linger in the projected images shown between the film screenings.

This all took place under the umbrella of Kahoon Projects, a discursive platform that examines working-class identity in the 21st century through contemporary art practice presented by Oxford Brookes University and SET. Kahoon Projects consists of a series of collaborative, interdisciplinary residencies in which, for one month, two artists are paired to develop a conversation and create new work about social class.

This exhibition, Word of Mouth, is the result of collaborating with artist Mitchell Vowles, writer and thinker Roland Fischer-Vousden (from SET), and academic and curator Alex Bickley Trott (from Oxford Brookes University). Whether staged or collaged on an elastic timeline, both Mitch’s film, It’s still banging in 2019, and Manoeuvres evoke counter-cultural space and attitude. Referencing the Kinks song and lyrics, we invite you to question, ‘who are they to say the things they do?’