With her performances, installations and film the British artist Ruth Beale explores and draws attention to current social-political issues using cultural and historical references to create a new critical narrative. In her most recent installation shown at Cell Project Space in London, she addressed the phenomenon of the library, its social significance while acknowledging its indecisive future.
The narrative sound-piece “Now from Now”, the diptych “Acid Utopia / An Epoch of Rest” together with the alphabetical list of “All the Libraries in London” form a powerful, poetic utopian statement with a dystopian touch. Beale has a poetic subversive activist approach which creates a continuous tension that allows fiction and non-fiction to merge. With her intimate, unconventional, popping up “Miss B’s Salons” in private as well as public space she consciously seeks the confrontation with individuals to discuss political matters.
With her ongoing project the “Pamphlet Library”, Beale creates a dialogue around contemporary social-political issues based on her selection of historical socialist and Marxist pamphlets (each one exemplifying a pressing issue and opinion of their time) enabling the reader to interpret the current debates through a historical window.
As part of the project Beale invited five contemporary writers to revive the arguments made by Virginia Woolf, E.H. Foster and Graham Bell in 1939. They were published as part of the Hogarth Sixpenny Pamphlets series whose aim was to “provide thinking people with the means to consider fundamental problems in art, literature, taste and morals”.
The new texts were read during a performance, accompanying Beale’s “Pamphlet Library – Post Election Selection”. Beale responded with this selection to the British elections in 2009 in the context of the group show “The Mulberry Tree Press” at SE 8 gallery, London.
Jenny Moore is an energetic storytelling artist, musician and author whose performances, publications and sculptural work draw attention to every-day situations via a magnifying glass of small details. “Proposal for a Rock Opera” tells the story about a London based artist that is in need of money and ends up going on an artist-residency in Norway. Moore blends humour with a soft tone of criticality, that together with her poetic, playful aesthetical approach results in a dynamic complexity that highlights the subtlety of the situation and its surrounding.
In her most recent performances “A Dialogue of Something Moving” and “The 19:45 Train to Cheshunt in 5 Shapes”, which took place in the London Overground, Moore draws one’s attention into the actual moment via an unexpected object entering the situation. While multiple voices read out loud a chapter of a novel pointing out little details of the overlooked in the haste of the moment, subtle tones from a string instrument fill the carriage.
Beside her individual practice Jenny Moore is also initiator of GANDT, an artist collective that is challenging the notion of authorship, collaboration and the imaginative in their publications, performances and exhibitions.
n.o.where run by Karen Mirza and Brad Butler (UK, based in London)
The artist-run initiative n.o.where at the heart of London, is unique in their approach. They combine being a production house for all sorts of analogue film and video while at the same time having a critical dialogue about contemporary image making through their public program. Founded by the artists and filmmakers Karen Mirza and Brad Butler in 2004, n.o.where has a dense discursive programme of critical discussions, performances, screenings, residencies that explore political and aesthetic questions around contemporary image production and systems of distribution. Recent projects include “The Free Cinema School" a contemporary film pedagogy, "Sequence" a new journal of artists writing on the moving image, "Light Reading” a platform for direct discussion between artist and audience and "Image | Event" a platform for critical discourse within the "Image Movement" exhibition at the Centre for Contemporary Art Geneva amongst others. N.o.where offers filmmakers a new platform to discuss their work in a critical, inspiring environment and has stepped into the gap that occurred after the London Filmmakers Coop lost its vibrance.
Mirza and Butler also collaborate on autonomous projects outside the realm of the initiative. “The Museum of Non Participation” is a spatial and conceptual (geo) political structure conceived by the collective Karen Mirza & Brad butler in 2008. The Museum collects and archives a body of actions, gestures, images and objects by the artists and their collaborators wherever and whenever they have found themselves confronting pivotal moments of change, protest, non-alignment and resistance in the public sphere. By bringing these together under the rubric of the museum, the artists question the choice and consequence of action/inaction in any given social space. Most importantly, the museum has developed through co-authorship, forming itself around a constituency of actors that span a divergent array of socio-cultural, economic, class and geographical boundaries.