Dave Stephens: The Sky is Falling

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stills from “The Sky is Falling” video 50seconds.    The complete video can be viewed at:  http://wwwdavestephens.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/syria-film-sky-is-falling.html

Statement:

“When a teenager I read most of Orwell’s books and the one that hit me most initially was Down and out in Paris and London. I had a careers interview in my grammar school where I said I wanted to be an artist only to be told that that wasn’t a respectable career and I should consider a different course in life. To that I replied that my second choice was to be a tramp. I have recently read Homage to Catalonia for the first time and it fitted really well with my work as a sculptor which involves exploring concepts of war and disaster from your own sitting room.

My son William, who I am collaborating with on this project, recently visited Berlin and met a Syrian refugee who was being refused entry to a club. Will was not able to persuade the bouncers to let the guy into the club so they both went instead to a refugees club which was far more interesting. The Syrian guy who Will met then sent him a picture of a completely decimated town in Syria that had only one house left standing. He said that that was his house. The image that he sent became part of a collaborative film between myself and Will. Our continuation of this collaboration is moving into a new film which is exploring the kinds of way that surveillance is becoming an everyday part of our society. Very much like the Orwellian images of 1984.

Dave Stephens is a sculptor, performance artist and film maker. He has exhibited in many galleries including the Laing Gallery, Newcastle and the Economist Building in London. In his career as a performance artist he has performed in over 100 venues in the US, Canada, Europe as well as the UK.

His practise often moves between disciplines and some of his recent work combines elements of all of them. It is a way of giving a piece a past and future as well as the present. As an educationalist Stephens has been a visiting lecturer in many art institutions including most recently at the University of Brighton. He is also Head of Design at Varndean College in Brighton.

Group Exhibitions

2018 Sitting Room, (a curated show with Anne Bean and Lewis Robinson) Phoenix Art Gallery, Brighton.

2017 Afterlives, Queen Mary, University of London.

2016 Commemoration, Arts Admin, London

2014 Paper Gallery, Manchester.

2011 Memorial, Beaconsfield Art Gallery, London

2007 “Pause” Phoenix Art Gallery, Brighton.

2004 “Culture” Phoenix Art Gallery, Brighton.

2002 “All creatures great and small” Hereford Museum and Art Gallery.

2000 “Conceptual Interiors” Beatrice Royal Art Gallery, Southampton.

2000 Gallery 100, Brighton.

1999 Brighton Festival Sculpture Trail.

1999“Fiveways Artists” University of Brighton Gallery.

1998 Economist Building, London.

1997 “Short Life” The Old Lead Works, Bristol.

1996 Gallery 45, Brighton.

1996 “On the Level” Phoenix Art Gallery, Brighton.

1990 Amnesty International, University of Coventry Gallery.

1988 “Sculpture in the Park”, Basildon.

1976 New Contemporaries, Acme Gallery, London

1973 Northern Young Contemporaries.

Video Presentations:

2015 Hinch Premier South East, Electric Cinema, Hastings.

2015 Landscape Walking, the short films of Dave Stephens/Matt Page, Electric Cinema,Hastings

2015 Hinch Video Launch, Live Art Development Agency, London.

2015 Hinch, Cine City, Brighton.

2010 Mr Day at Hove Museum, Hove Museum, Brighton and Hove.

2007 “Mr Day’s Big Day Out” Phoenix Art Gallery. (collaboration with Matt Page)

2007 3 films triptych, Phoenix Art Gallery. (collaboration with Matt Page)

2003 “suit” LIFEWORKART, BALTIC GALLERY, GATESHEAD.

1980 “When the lights go out”, Gina Show, Cable TV, Canada.

1984 “The Tough of the Track”, video pilot (Channel 4).

Solo Exhibitions:

2007 Queens Park Art Centre, Aylesbury

2002 Wednesbury Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham

2002 Alfred East Art Gallery, Kettering.

2001 Queens Park Art Centre, Aylesbury.

1999 Mindshare, The Strand, London.

1998 LAING GALLERY, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

1998 Sutton House Gallery, London.

1998 Dartington Arts, Totnes, Devon.

1998 Worthing Museum.

1998 Ashford Library Gallery.

1998 Loughborough College of Art.

1997 Plymouth Arts Centre.

1997 Phoenix Art Gallery, Brighton.

A complete list of performance venues can be found on his biography section on the website below.

website:  www.davestephenssculptor.co.uk/

Blog:   wwwdavestephens.blogspot.com/

Twitter: @davesculptor

 

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Dalton Desborough: Eye

‘Eye’  wall-mounted silicone sculpture

“EYE is a sculpture that references George Orwell’s fictional character ‘Big Brother’ from the book 1984. The poster that states “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU” inspired the artist Dalton Desborough to make this sculpture. within the eyeball of the sculpture the pupil is made from a crystal clear resin that is backed with a mirror which therefore makes the illusion of the audience being able to see their selfs whilst observing the sculpture. This is done to make the audience feel un-easy and to make them feel that they are constantly being watched even if there no longer looking at sculpture, ‘EYE’ still looks over you. This idea of Orwell’s that the government always have their eyes on you and that there will never be any form of privacy or alone time as you’ll always be one step away from a CCTV camera or microphone etc.
The use of silicone is used to help make the resemblance of the eye being a human one. Which also creates a catalyst for the audience to think that behind this camera recording there will always be someone looking over you like a shadow that you just can’t get rid of.”
 Artist Biography:
Name: Dalton Desborough
Age: 22 years old
Education: Fine Art BA honours at Sheffield Hallam University
current work Status: High Definition prosthetic Silicone Technician
Location: London, UK

Emma Saunders

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“Say No To ID”  Image of  ‘Presence’ projected on The Houses of Parliament for 25 minutes from midnight; 6/10/2006. In collaboration with Liberty Human Rights.*

eyevidstill2Presence

projection 017Prisoner of consumerism

“George Orwell’s novel ‘1984’ was a starting point for the works; a novel which years ago seemed far-fetched in the UK. Gradually, information has become power and CCTV, JamCam, ID cards, Eye recognition etc have been gradually introduced to protect the public. The need for the public to be protected is counteracted by a fear that we need protecting.

Having spent five years working on the subject of control and the Totalitarian State,  inspired by George Orwell’s 1984  and the links with modern day society – I have produced a number of works to reflect this, including collaborating with Liberty Human Rights to produce a projection onto the Houses of Parliament ( in demonstration over the ID card), performance art, digital media, and installations have incorporated this theme. Exploring social interaction with the art works was key for many of the works, to engage the viewer and to question what has become of our everyday lives.

The more recent impact of the data shared via the internet is a newer and more prominent issue and there is a fine line between protection of personal information and exploitation and indeed between order and chaos. The use of our private information for the benefit of others has now shifted from a localised governmental issue to now a more frightening prospect of worldwide exploitation via the internet which has been evident by the recent publicity of social media.”

Follow the Leader:     video  1min 52 secs.

Follow the Leader  examines the effects of situational power and control; to implant fear, confusion and deference.

Drawing on political and sociological sources to play on the viewers experience, this piece encourages interaction with the viewer. The entrance and exit into the installation are not clearly defined, only the text gave an indication of “leadership” and most viewers followed this.  Entering through a dark corridor, single file and forced to turn the corner, drawn towards the light of a projection the viewer becomes an active presence, consciously aware of how their shadows are cast on the projection before they can view and having to lower their eyes to avoid the projectors beam (as though under interrogation). Walking towards the next corner, which holds the ultimate viewing point whereby both screens can be viewed, a duplicate film displaying further corridors and corners with sound of decisive footsteps is projected and questions – who is leading who? As others enter the installation the viewer feels obliged to move from this ultimate position as the projection becomes overcast with the next viewers’ shadow.

videoStills from “Follow the Leader”    video 1min 52 secs.

 

About the Artist

Emma Saunders is a contemporary fine artist living and working from her studio in Suffolk, England. After attending Ipswich School of Art she later gained a BA Hons at UCS (affiliated with the UEA) in 2006 and has exhibited and sold works nationally and in internationally. Previously involved with conceptual, large scale installations and video, collaborating with Liberty Human Rights in October 2006 on themes of a social and political nature. The ideology of control and power and the subsequent consequences of these have played a part in her work. Recently, her work has taken a shift to painting although she is always drawn back to this subject.

“As a young teenager, I listened for hours to ‘Pink Floyd’ something resonated with me, literature inspired me further and later when the world started changing to a technological age of the internet, CCTV etc. the unreal started to become real. It was then that I realised I need to speak out through art.”

www.emmasaundersart.com

watchtowerhires                        The kind of place we live

*”It was a strange one as the night of the projection there was a Luton lorry parked on the bridge for almost 30 minutes with the back open and a large projector shining at the Houses of Parliament with the lads operating it in black and some with balaclavas – in that time we had no police intervention only two community officers who mentioned parking restrictions. Bearing in mind this was just after a one mile protest rule from the square.                                                                                              Shami Chakrabti and other MPs from various constituencies were present during the screening – but no press and nothing online at all afterwards. All I can think is that the Home Office intervened? I emailed the press but no publication.  Liberty used the image which also included one with text “Say No to ID” in their members newsletter and I think that was it. Very odd. It was  in some respects a disappointing outcome, although passer-by’s took photos. Almost as if it never existed. Fitting really.”

Kath Wilkinson and the destruction of Resistance

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Kath Wilkinson is a director of promotional films. She has worked in the corporate video sector  as first model-maker then director for nearly twenty years. A cineaste whose own work looks to commercial cinema rather than art video, her work is usually seen only at ‘pop-up’ events -and by invitation only, “but I wanted to contribute to this project when advertised. Orwell’s writing is very filmic and I have always wanted to tackle ‘The Road to Wigan Pier’ as a longer feature. I have developed some scenes on story boards  but this project is at present, a work in progress.”

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The Destruction of Resistance:  video 4mins. 34 secs.

“For room 103, I looked closely at the three commercial film versions of 1984. My video examines the climactic scene of Winston Smith’s betrayal of Julia.

In contrast to the black & white film versions of Cartier in 1954 and Anderson 1956 and the washed out ‘period’ hues of the Radford feature released in 1984, I wanted to make the fear visceral through saturated, full colour within a fully illuminated room. Torture techniques are alive and well and operating in the full colour world of the here and now.

Orwell knew that the expectation of torture was a psychologically more effective tool than the act itself to accomplish moral disintegration. The film comprise four minutes of tight cropping centred on the mouth distorted by fear, the head rocking to and fro in a vain attempt to avoid its impending fate.

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Because I used the rats point of view, closing slowly in on the face, I elected  to utilise that animal’s faster metabolic rate and reactions, so the victim’s movements and accompanying pleadings are correspondingly slowed down. The distorted screams are overlaid by the chattering of rats teeth.

The whole is jerkily edited  like a badly looped pieces of footage.

It is a corporate video; a torturer’s educational manual; a public service film

‘pour l’encourage les autres’…”

Kath Wilkinson April 2018

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Anarchist: Nigel Robert Pugh

an anarchist

“I first encountered the writing of Orwell when I was twelve years old. It was a summer holiday and I had been sent to stay at the home of a family friend for a week whilst my parents went off for a camping holiday that I, by that time being far too civilised, had refused to even contemplate.

The family I was staying with had a son the same age as me, which was the only thing the two of us had in common. His mother, on our first day, suggested that he and I walk into the nearby town as a way of getting to know one another. It may have been that she was already sick of the sight of me and had thought this up as a ruse to get rid of me for the day…….whatever her motives the result was spectacularly successful (from my point of view) as a result of returning a few hours later having established that her son couldn’t drink more that half a bottle of QC sherry without losing the use of his legs. Unlike me, he had never tried alcohol before so it was something of a shock to a hardened drinker like myself to see the pitiful state into which he had fallen.

I managed eventually to carry him home, but instead of being grateful (I could have easily forgotten him and left him behind) his mother banned me from going anywhere near him for the rest of the week, and confined me during daylight hours to a conservatory which had artfully been tacked onto the back of their semi-detatched, and in which there was a shelf of books.

The following day I took up position in an old wicker chair by the window and made a random selection from the bookshelf by my side. The book was Animal Farm, and it changed my life completely……I am not going to review its many virtues, as anyone who has ever read it will know what I mean by that statement……I read it entirely in one sitting (the only way to read it) and once finished, an astonished twelve year old hedonist became an astonished politically aware twelve year old hedonist. From that moment onward my every delinquency became an action against the state…..and always in Snowball’s cause.

The drawing provided is something that came to me almost as soon as the project was mentioned to me. Of all Orwell’s writing (even including the above cathartic novel) Homage to Catalonia is my personal favourite; possibly owing to the fact that my grandfather fought in the Spanish Civil War. It encapsulates the eye for the truth from which Orwell never flinched. The saddest part of the book is the account of the fighting between the various factions in Barcelona – the vision of the hope crumbling…..eating itself alive.

‘Hitherto the rights and wrongs had seemed so beautifully simple.’

My drawing is of a dead Anarchist – as you can probably tell from my introductory tale, the Anarchists were always going to be my favourites…..and thanks to Orwell, they still are.”

Nigel Robert Pugh  March 2018