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River, Roads & Fire, 2020

The epic of Gilgamesh (2000 BC) is the oldest story ever told. It contains the first record of human impact on the environment. The Sumerian tale describes vast tracts of cedar forests in present day Southern Iraq. According to the story, Gilgamesh defies the Gods by cutting down the forest, and in return, the Gods curse the land with fire and drought.

River, Roads & Fire is made of two charred trunks of cedar wood enveloped in rubber. The two objects speak to the widespread desertification of land in ancient Sumeria—now seen as the likely result of deliberate deforestation.

By 2100 BC, soil erosion and salt composites in the area had devastated agriculture, forcing communities to move north to Babylon and Assyria. Some of the first laws decreed to protect forests were established in the Sumerian city-state ‘Ur’ in ancient Mesopotamia.

Photography by Damien Griffiths

ABOUT SOL BAILEY-BARKER

Sol Bailey-Barker is a multi-disciplinary artist working primarily with sculpture, sound and performance. Bailey-Barker is informed by the development of technologies that were for millennia seen as shamanic for their transformative power upon the landscape and their influence over life and death.

His work reconnects technological development and its ancient spiritual origins. Drawing on the sound of rhythmic machinery, deep space and sacred bells, Bailey-Barker’s sculptures often double as sonic ritual instruments.

Sol Bailey-Barker (b. 1987, London UK) lives and works in London.

About Jeremy Deller

Jeremy Deller’s multi-faceted practice incorporates forms of social investigation and archival research, often celebrating British popular and vernacular culture. He represented Britain in the Venice Biennale in 2013 and won the Turner Prize in 2004. In 2016 Deller collaborated with Iggy Pop on a life drawing class. In 2017 he participated in Skulptur Projekte Münster.

His recent work includes Putin’s Happy,  filmed in and around Parliament Square, London between January and March 2019—concluding with footage of the Brexit Betrayal March on March 29th; the film, Everybody in the Place: An Incomplete History of Britain 1984-1992, a re-evaluation of acid house in relation to the social and political landscape of 1980s Britain, and we’re here because we’re here, a UK-wide event commissioned by 14-18 NOW for the centenary of the Battle of the Somme in 2016. Deller is represented by The Modern Institute, Glasgow; Art Concept, Paris and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York.

Jeremy Deller (b. 1966, London UK) lives and works in London.

About Jack Evans

Jack Evans is a visual artist, film maker and sculptor. His work is interested in ideas of aspiration and cultural dissemination, drawing motifs from the aesthetic ideas of ‘luxury’ and the societies which reinforce it.

His work often uses common building materials alongside bespoke processes to simulate and distort the decorative decisions we make in our homes and gardens.

Through recreation and imitation, his work draws heavily from classical civilisations through to the more obscure symbols of aspiration revived from his Nineties childhood in the Midlands, familial trips to B&Q, and package holidays to the Mediterranean.

Jack Evans (b. 1992, Mansfield UK) lives and works in London.

About Nathaniel Faulkner

Nathaniel Faulkner combines archetypal motifs and imagery with references to popular culture and recent events. His work draws from both ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture and is interested in the moment of their resulting clash or amalgamation.

References extend from ancient civilisations to science fiction, film and art history. Faulkner’s approach to history is eclectic, celebrating anachronism and ‘alternative fact’. The resulting work combines real and fictitious worlds, uncanny and elusive.

Nathaniel Faulkner (b. 1995, Chippenham UK) lives and works in London.

About Lucy Gregory

Lucy Gregory is an artist working in sculpture, photography and drawing. In her work she creates immersive, large-scale kinetic systems of objects and environments that play with the themes of agency and materiality.

Fractured sets or propers are activated in bizarre and comic realsation.

Through her use of theatricality and flatness, her works often engage audience participation to activate surreal mechanisms that draw on bodies as flexible and unstable; undercurrent with tones of violent, slapstick humour.

Lucy Gregory (b. 1994, Amersham UK) lives and works in Buckinghamshire and London.

About Jenny Holzer

For more than forty years Jenny Holzer has presented her astringent ideas, arguments, and sorrows in public places and international exhibitions – she represented the USA and won the Golden Lion for her presentation at the Venice Biennale in 1990.

Her medium, whether formulated as a T-shirt, a plaque, or an electronic sign, is text. Starting in the 1970s with a series of posters and continuing through her recent light projections on landscape and architecture, her practice has rivaled ignorance and violence with humor, kindness, and courage.

Jenny Holzer (b. 1950, Ohio US) lives and works in New York.

 

About Rene Matić

Rene Matić’s work explores the immeasurable dimensions of Blackness through the lens of their own personal experiences as a queer, Black womxn living in the diaspora. Working across painting, sculpture, film, photography and textile, Matić aims to expose, combat and question the power relations that pervade society.

Recent work has explored the Skinhead movement, its founding as a multicultural marriage between West Indian and white working class culture and its subsequent co-option by far right white supremacists.

Rene Matić (b. 1997, Peterborough UK) lives and works in London.

About Lilian Nejatpour

Lilian Nejatpour is a British Iranian artist who works with sculptural forms, sound structures and performance. Her work investigates displacement and duality through a range of influences, such as ceremonial practices in Southern Iran or her northern background in bassline music in Bradford.

Lilian Nejatpour (b. 1994, Bradford UK) lives and works in London.

Damp Atmosphere, 2020

Damp Atmosphere is a soundscape that entwines earth, dust and water with the artist’s embodied self. Splintered by sonic disturbances, the artist recites personal encounters of questioning she has received as a female body of colour, composed and delivered with self-effacing reverence. It is a soundscape of linguistic and colonial violences and articulates the impact these forces have on disabling the artist’s connections to her own body and surrounding environment.

 

About Davinia-Ann Robinson

Davinia-Ann Robinson explores the politics of colonial emotions and how these affect Bodies of Colour who reside within colonial spaces. She is interested in the implications of these emotions and the sensations they create in between the layers of one’s skin and the experiences of living within the societal peripheries.

Robinson is interested in how these emotions distort readings and connections to one’s physical and metaphorical body, connections between individual bodies and connections to one’s environment. Robinson is also the founding member of Narration Group, a collective of Women and Non-Binary people of colour who meet fortnightly at the South London Gallery to discuss, dissect and reclaim their narratives.

Davinia-Ann Robinson (b. 1987, Wolverhampton UK) lives and works in London.

About Rafał Zajko

Rafał Zajko is an artist working in sculpture, performance and costume. His work deals with themes of monuments, socialist public sculpture and the relationship between body, technology and folklore. Zajko was born in the Polish People’s Republic a year before the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

Rafał Zajko (b. 1988, Białystok PL) lives and works in London.

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