I visited the present show on at studio1.1 ‘Rear View Mirror’ the 75th anniversary of the battle of Cable St, when local people united in solidarity barred and resisted the march of fascism.
Spending time in the gallery, Mon and Tue and talking to people, it is clear that there is an undercurrent of unease in the air. A recession predicted to get worse with no clear outcome.
The recent riots were in part thuggery in part a frustration of a misguided generation, who’s behavior is like that of a child lashing out not because it’s a monster needing to be excluded from school the community etc… but because its not being given the right sort of attention teaching them right from wrong guiding them into rounded and honorable adults who care about others. Closing down youth clubs and stopping funding for sports only add to their frustration. It’s the very poorest and vulnerable people that seem to be overlooked and labeled as ‘sick’ by this government. The very people that should be setting an example, the very same people who behave in a similar manner to the ‘sick’ minority groups that they describe. Stealing from the taxpayer by claiming for their second homes and the decorating of their duck houses. They are no better than the ‘Sick’ Minority that they continue to ignore and chastise. The only difference is they are educated and wear smart clothes they look unthreading to the naked eye
I recently visited ‘The Holocaust Exhibition’ at the Imperial War Museum’ Before world war two German People turned to the right because they to were frustrated and felt an overwhelming need for change. A hard recession, a depression not dissimilar to our present time. An exclusion and punishment set by the world community that allowed a whole country to feel imprisoned and beaten. One lady gives her account of the Nazis domination and recalls that although they were aware of minor incidents they never really thought Hitler would stay in power for long. They had no idea of the suffering and anguish of so many. Most of these people where decent and honest, yet they supported and cheered on the Nazis. They were unaware of the horrors that Hitler and the Nazis were inflicting on The Jews and Gypsies. Poles, Soviet prisoners of war the disabled, Jehovah’s Witnesses and homosexuals. One image of a pile of naked starved and decaying bodies being bulldozed is etched in my mind. Why did these people not rebel and why did so many people turn a blind eye to the appalling conditions people were subjected to?
‘As time goes on and experiences pile up, we make a greater and greater investment in our systems of labels. So a conservative bias is built in. it gives us confidence. At any time we may have to modify our structure of assumptions to accommodate new experience, but the more consistant experience is with the past, the more confidence we can have in our assumptions. Uncomfortable facts which refuse to be fitted in, we find ourselves ignoring or distorting so that they do not disturb these established assumptions. Anthropologist, Mary Douglas in ‘Purity and Danger’ New York reprinted Routledge 2008’
A tutor and friend of my partner Barbara Phillips has crit my work and questioned the content as irrelevant and out of date Barbra says that the ideas and content were issues that her counter parts were dealing with in the seventies and Eighties. I am an openly gay man who enjoys the freedom that others like Oscar Wilde and Noel Coward and Quentin Crisp had to fight against the prejudice and humiliation that ‘normal’ people inflicted on them, that’s not to mention the unforgotten hero’s who were persecuted for being different.
I don’t claim to be a political artist for me the wanking phallus allows the work to be interpreted in a relaxed and humors manner. It represents a inner peace and a acceptance of being a gay man. Yet I still feel unease when I see images of openly gay prejudice and here on the news that homophobia is on the rise. My partner of fourteen years and I share a concern of a civil partnership with documentation saying that we are indeed gay and where we live etc… We would like to celebrate or being together and maybe on the surface our concerns are unfound but the only certain thing in the world is the uncertainty.
The negative response I have received when showing work. All be it a minority who react in this way. It is the overwhelming response that always interests me. Recently I showed work at Supernormal at Brazier Park an experimental platform for artist and musicians to meet, discus and enjoy work that pushes boundaries. Yet on the Sunday one of my wanking puppets had been ripped apart my partner (Dave) described it as ‘Wanton Vandalism”. Of course it could be high spirits induced by drugs and drink but it was the deliberate way the eyes had been ripped out and a leg ripped apart that suggested a more aggressive attack.
Its easy to sit back and suggest that these things would never happen to day that we are a civilised and intelligent people who know better. But I suggest that it’s the individuals who continue to be ignored and go unchallenged that pose the biggest threat Its no good talking over them and giving them criminal records or a four month prison sentence for stealing a bag of rice. They need to be educated and listened to. Having a feeling of being a part of something rather than alienated.
There are several ways of treating anomalies. Negatively, we can ignore, just not perceive them, or perceiving we can condemn. Positively, we can deliberately confront the anomaly and try to create a new pattern of reality in which it has a place. It is not impossible for an individual to revise his own personal scheme of classifications. But no individual lives in isolation and his scheme will have been partly received from others. Mary Douglas in ‘Purity and Danger’ New York reprinted Routledge 2008’
As scars and the stories of horror fade from a world that moves forward as survivors and people at the forefront of change die and people become complacent and the scars fade. It’s important that we revisit the cable street riots (Rear view Mirror, studio 1.1) or at least the Mural go and experience the holocaust Exhibition and I will continue to make work that pushes my own boundaries and that of others.