kennardphillipps - artists peter kennard and cat phillips

Americas Greatest Hits , EXILE gallery

With the exhibition Americas Greatest Hits the London-based artist duo kennardphillipps are responding to the rise of right-wing populism, not just in Austria but around the globe. The fragility of democracy and the dangerous undercurrents of current political speech and institutional violence stand at the center of this exhibition produced specifically for, and in response to, EXILE’s space and close location to the seats of power of the current right-wing ÖVP/FPÖ government.

Entering the wooden, ground floor space of the gallery a large, almost wall-sized image is depicting a pictorial night shot of the brightly-lit Austrian Parliament building flying the Austrian flag. On the opposite wall hang three individual banners showing red-white-red colored horizontal stripes, as in the Austrian flag. All works are printed on extremely thin dust sheet not intended for printing on and appear smeared if not at times obliterated. Between the wall works a record player is playing a single track, manually set on repeat.

The image of the Austrian parliament building with its panoramic perspective and scenic lighting could be sourced from countless amateur tourist smartphones or stock-photography websites. It’s generic but well-composed pictorial quality is only ruptured by the fragility of it’s own printing material which yet again seems to enhance the image’s appearance as almost skilful and, to a degree, oddly painterly. As a combination of perspective, lighting, scale and technique the work refers to a particular genre of large-scale representational painting found in most buildings of socio-political powers aiming to underline the owner’s or institution’s importance and, as a final goal, their longevity.

Installed on the opposite wall are three banners depicting the colors of the Austrian flag. These seemingly life-size representations of an actual flag seem to allure to all too common nationalist sentiments felt not only in Vienna but across many cities and countries. Only loosely attached to the gallery’s wooden wall onto wooden bars, their vernacular identity reminds uncomfortably of traditional Trachtenvereine, nationalist Burschenschaften or patriotic party congresses. Though here, the pictorial and painterly smears of the image of Parliament have turned into tracks or traces diluting the distinct color blocks of most national flags. The red color at top and bottom quite literally bleeds into and across the center white. The unabsorbable ink is looking for ways or channels to attach itself onto a hostile surface not meant for such purpose. A simple technological failure metaphorically questions national identity and individual socio-political responsibility.

 

Central in the ground floor space is the evolving, process-based work that gives the show its title. In response to kennardphillipps’ artwork the album sleeve Americas Greatest Hits lists all unarmed fatalities of US police shootings since 2015. London-based intermedia artist Mukul has initiated the recording of an LP as a memorial to the victims. This initial edition contains a single track produced using the police body cam recordings of violence perpetrated against citizens who were neither armed nor attacking.

Images and audio together form two aspects of an environment in which visitors are invited to reflect upon the current crisis of our democratic institutions in relation to the global rise of right-wing populism. It is a reminder that history can all too easily repeat itself if we do not learn from it.

EXILE

Elisabethstrasse 24
1010 Vienna, Austria

Finnegans Woke

[01/02/2019] Installation view of ‘Finnegans Woke’, an exhibition of work by kennardphillipps in Rua Red, Tallaght, 25 January – 29 March 2019. Photo: Kasia Kaminska

[01/02/2019] Installation view of ‘Finnegans Woke’, an exhibition of work by kennardphillipps in Rua Red, Tallaght, 25 January – 29 March 2019. Photo: Kasia Kaminska

[01/02/2019] Installation view of ‘Finnegans Woke’, an exhibition of work by kennardphillipps in Rua Red, Tallaght, 25 January – 29 March 2019. Photo: Kasia Kaminska

[01/02/2019] Installation view of ‘Finnegans Woke’, an exhibition of work by kennardphillipps in Rua Red, Tallaght, 25 January – 29 March 2019. Photo: Kasia Kaminska

[01/02/2019] Installation view of ‘Finnegans Woke’, an exhibition of work by kennardphillipps in Rua Red, Tallaght, 25 January – 29 March 2019. Photo: Kasia Kaminska

[01/02/2019] Installation view of ‘Finnegans Woke’, an exhibition of work by kennardphillipps in Rua Red, Tallaght, 25 January – 29 March 2019. Photo: Kasia Kaminska

[01/02/2019] Installation view of ‘Finnegans Woke’, an exhibition of work by kennardphillipps in Rua Red, Tallaght, 25 January – 29 March 2019. Photo: Kasia Kaminska

[01/02/2019] Installation view of ‘Finnegans Woke’, an exhibition of work by kennardphillipps in Rua Red, Tallaght, 25 January – 29 March 2019. Photo: Kasia Kaminska

[01/02/2019] Installation view of ‘Finnegans Woke’, an exhibition of work by kennardphillipps in Rua Red, Tallaght, 25 January – 29 March 2019. Photo: Kasia Kaminska

[01/02/2019] Installation view of ‘Finnegans Woke’, an exhibition of work by kennardphillipps in Rua Red, Tallaght, 25 January – 29 March 2019. Photo: Kasia Kaminska

 

 

Finnegans Woke – newspaper – 289×400 mm v12-2

virtual tour created by Martin Dunne, @SeeBigPhotography

25 January – 29 March 2019

Between 25 January and 29 March kennardphillipps presents Finnegans Woke at Rua Red, Tallaght. Pointing the finger at those in power, the exhibition speaks of the hypocrisy, greed and trauma that is driving world politics today. The exhibition is a call for civic engagement. Community-led work serves here as a platform to counter mainstream coverage. This process can be seen at Rua Red in a broader historical context, reminiscent of the possible cyclicity of history, explored by James Joyce in Finnegans Wake, 1939. The exhibition urges to learn from the past and stay alert to the social injustice in the making. This marks the fourth collaboration between a/political and Rua Red in partnership bringing some of the world’s foremost socially and politically engaged artists to Dublin.

Finnegans Woke is a rich body of work, featuring photomontages, prints, paintings and mixed media installations; centred around a monumental raft built by the artist as a symbol of civil resistance and the struggle for a better future. Rafts featured heavily in the press reporting on the desperate migration of people from the Middle East and North Africa. Its inclusion in the show is a welcome to the survivors of such journeys who now live in Tallaght and the surrounding county. The raft is ringed by one hundred and seven anonymous portraits: Untitled Men in Suits, an embodiment of the bureaucratic systems perpetuating power.

The beating heart of the show is the open studio titled War on War Room, located in an antechamber to the gallery. Throughout the exhibition, kennardphillipps and their collaborators operate the War On War Room as a working space to produce new works with the people of Dublin. These new works are to be added to the installation during the course of the exhibition.

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