Taking its name from a bootleg collecting website ‘The Ultimate Bootleg Experience’, this exhibition examines the use of visual archival material through the documentation of sonic and visual cultures, particularly music and film.
How is memory, storytelling and political discourse often unknowingly built through materials such as listening devices, gig posters and portraits of performers? Extracting the nuance and fragility within the archive of the everyday, The Ultimate Bootleg Experience seeks to highlight the complexities within sonic materials and its cultural debris, and what can be understood from the crevice of a tambourine, a broken airpod or note on the fridge.
The exhibiting artists in The Ultimate Bootleg Experience are united in their ability to unearth the forgotten residue of cultural production. Through references to popular sonic and visual cultures, the notion of ‘bootlegging’ is here turned into an intricate artistic process that both celebrates and interrogates the sedimetnal layers of history, belonging and the often deeply personal memories that exist around us every day.
Questioning the traditional equation between sight and understanding, Divine Southgate-Smith invites us to observe and examine visual representations of the future whilst in constant dialogue with the past. Taking its name from the Nina Simone song of the same title, TOMORROW IS MY TURN combines photography, poetry and music in order to capture a haptic resonance in image construction. Memory, imagination and cultural anchors are thus employed as material from which to extract ways of visualising black experience. TEETH KISSIN’ Where Elephants Reside is a visual and archival adaptation of Southgate-Smith’s spoken word poetry.
Southgate-Smith has developed a practice comprising film, text, spoken word poetry, performance, installation, sculpture, furniture design, CGI animation, and 3D rendering. The work often references and questions articulations of black, queer, and female experience. She/They navigates speculative spaces where things are abstracted, contextualised, de-contextualised, voiced, or silenced. Questioning the traditional equation between sight and understanding - Southgate-Smith invites us to observe and examine visual representations of the future whilst in constant dialogue with the past. She/They touches on themes of oppression, stereotyping, intersectionality, empowerment, and joy.
Her/Their approach to art-making is trans-disciplinary and collaborative allowing her/them to explore complex narratives through various mediums and disciplines. Southgate-Smith's practice relies on research and intuition; hence, she/they turns to storytelling, music, imagination, play, community, and archive as sources of inspiration and creation.
Distorting surfaces and boundaries between the screen, objects and images from personal archives, Ibrahim Azab’s Enodprhines and Import transform materials and photographs into surreal and abstract composites of the everyday, confronting issues of mass-production, globalisation and ideological shifts within contemporary landscapes of the everyday. Through these works, Azab seeks to express and confront frictions between the ideal, fictional and real spaces within capitalist systems, reflecting upon deconstructive phycological effects of automated and mediated experiences of culture, knowledge and production.
Ideas of Process, perception, and information from the centre point of Azab’s practice whilst surrounding research of his work investigates the relationship between the fictional, real, material and immaterial landscapes. His work explores the photograph as object, through digital and physical intervention, with a focus towards the movement and transfer of visual language as abstract information.
Significantly the work of Ibrahim Azab is concerned with failure and representation within the photographic medium, playfully surfacing the act of seeing and unseeing through phenomenological understanding of the surface.
Athen Kardashian & Nina Mhach Durban
Athen Kardashian & Nina Mhach Durban’s collaborative practice has been formed by an ongoing dialogue concerning their joint experience of being raised in London to Indian mothers. Noticeboards reminiscent of school and work become sculptures as the duo curate their collection of found images and trinkets, positioned at the hand of conversations regarding family, displacement, and migration. In utilising glamorous Bollywood headshots and diasporic, domestic objects they reference matriarchal upbringings, diasporic femininity, and the nostalgia inherent to reflection upon 'teenagehood’ and childhood.
The series of works being exhibited utilises this overwhelming sense of nostalgia paired with diasporic aesthetics to create an archive that colonialism has failed to preserve/document/acknowledge. Functioning as a method of conversation, between the artists and other migrant peoples within Britain, the works propose the question, what is ‘sacred’? Drawing heavily from their Nani’s Poojas and the 'shrines' the artists would create to pop stars as children, the work uses frameworks of iconography and worship within both a British, and British-Asian migrant context.