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14th - 30th April

The Ultimate Bootleg Experience

Agostino Quaranta, Athen Kardashian, Divine Southgate-Smith, Ibrahim Azab, Nina Mhach Durban

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.

Distorting surfaces and boundaries between the screen, objects and images from personal archives, Ibrahim Azab’s Enodprhines and Importtransform 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.

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.

Agostino Quaranta presents here works from Turbo Sud, a project that seeks to document the contemporary and traditional music scenes of Southern Italy. Situated within the crevice between the factual and imaginary, the project unearths the re-manufacturing process behind Puglia’s traditional music Pizzica Pizzica and the forgotten story from the early ’90s of its electronic counterpart, Tecnopizzica. Quaranta’s film Tecnopizzica and Turbo Sud collages question notions of authenticity, collective memory, and the value of sonic traditions through the story of an ancient music genre poised between extinction, revival and early computer music experiments.

Athen Kardashian & Nina Mhach Durban’s collaborative practice activates an often-overwhelming sense of nostalgia that endeavours to form a diasporic archive that the history of colonialism has sought to eradicate. 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 displacement, diasporic femininity and 'teenagehood’. Functioning as a method of conversation, the exhibited 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.

For the site-specific installation on the gallery door, Nina Mhach Durban has cropped and enlarged a found image of Bollywood actress Rekha. Here Durban uses touch to imbue the image with intimacy as it is smoothed over surfaces, forced to migrate across awkward corners, and held tenderly in-between hands.

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 ‘bootleging’ 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 everyday.

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