Image: Film still from work by Brad Butler and Karen Mirza
Two films by Brad Butler, a researcher at London College of Communication (LCC) will be featured in a new exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, called MIRRORCITY from 14 October 2014 to 4 January 2015.
MIRRORCITY explores the effect the digital revolution has had on our experiences. It shows recent work and new commissions by key emerging and established artists working in the capital today, who seek to address the challenges, conditions and consequences of living in a digital age.
A specially produced ‘alternative’ newspaper has been created by Tom McCarthy for MIRRORCITY. The project was conceived as a collaboration between the author and the artists featured in the exhibition. Artists have contributed a diverse and distinctive array of texts and pictures that McCarthy has edited into an otherworldly reading experience.
Brad completed a PhD at LCC with William Raban as his supervisor and has since become a Post Doctoral Research Fellow at the College. Brad along with his creative partner, Karen Mirza have been shortlisted for sixth Artes Mundi Prize, the UK’s biggest Contemporary Art Prize and will be exhibiting in Cardiff from 24 October 2014 and 22nd February 2015.
Tell us what work you are including in the show, and why did you choose this work?
I am showing a new work, Everything for Everyone and Nothing for Us alongside an existing work, Hold your Ground. Shown side by side, these two films speak to each other, though there’s a slight awkwardness about their conversation. They are both about languages of protest, and the relationship of the body to protest. Everything for Everyone and Nothing for Us is set in a TV studio, where a protester-in-training listens to audio extracts from a political speech by Margaret Thatcher. Having absorbed the sounds, the protester uses movement to exorcise Thatcher’s voice, retraining the body to resist capitalism.
In Hold Your Ground the same protester struggles to turn utterances into speech. Her efforts are interrupted by archive footage of protests in Egypt, Northern Ireland and London. Eventually, she manages to pronounce four phonetic phrases reconstructed from Arabic, meaning ‘hold your ground’, ‘Egyptians’, ‘homeland’ (of the earth, of the Nile) and ‘strike’.
The title of Hold Your Ground is taken from the pamphlet How To Protest Intelligently. Everything for Everyone and Nothing for Us echoes the slogan of the Mexican Zapatista liberation movement, which began its struggle against neoliberalism, exploitation and racist oppression in 1994.
Were you approached by Tom McCarthy and what has it been like working with him?
There is a newspaper edited by Tom accompanying the Hayward Show with work submitted by all the participants in the exhibition. Tom has then cross edited and retitled the submitted text, pictures or provocations to create something new. Somehow no one has complained, and he has made something more than the sum of its parts. An early draft I saw was very funny.
Why did you choose to study your PhD at LCC? Was it a good experience?
I chose LCC based on the supervisors primarily. William Raban and Elizabeth Edwards understood my project and process. It was, for me, a perfect match of expertise and timing, and before I knew it I was in the programme supported by LCC research department to find funding. From there it was a great experience and formative for my work, while academia may not suit every praxis, it proved to be a chance for me to go deeper in a supported semi autonomous way.
The links later onto a post doctorate have felt natural. So far I have been encouraged and I feel I fit. Basically over the last 19 years of being an artist I have worked out the hard way how important it is to work with the right people. Even great ideas will become exhausting if that is not a priority.
Part of the #inspiringresearch series