In winter of 2020, from 27th November to 21st February I will be doing a project and residency at Basement Arts Project in Leeds. This will consist of multimedia, sculptural and installation work using a text already devised that research has been taken from for development.
The full proposal can be read below, where a short video can also be seen taken during that recent research trip to the site of the proposed ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ at The Rother Valley.
In 2020 a Gulliver’s Travels theme park will open one of the old colliery sites (Pithouse West) in Rotherham, it is intended that this will provide jobs, leisure and opportunities for the local population. Using the idea of memoryscapes I have developed a text which explores the development of the land, personal and collective memory, Brexit and Migration. These are layers of history in juxtaposition through which we see its contemporary commercial use, its former impoverishment, and the transitionary element of displaced people.
Some believe that Brexit is just the last throes of empire, but others may see it as a thing that we are headed back towards. It is still taught in the curriculum of today, that Britain’s racist attitude abroad has always been forged and cemented by this outnumbering approach to ruling, and as a result many people still see us as naturally superior to our colonized nations. Transplanting people from their own countries and placing them in a foreign land, mostly because they were required in menial jobs. Certain politicians want to divide the split further between UK and Europe so that we can secure trade deals as freely as we did then, forgetting that being a part of a single trade market is a good thing. A return to people trafficking, trading in slaves, poached goods and the black-market.
The modern-day slavery act of 2015 recognizes and criminalizes it, as well as makes it very clear that this is a problem which is still widely prevalent, but why with the advent of Brexit are we seeing this now? In the days of empire this never would have been the case as slaves had no rights, but now there is wide-spread knowledge in a mostly compassionate society about their predicament. Processions of ‘Welcome’ and ‘Go Away’ gnomes manacled to each other will be frogmarched over a Mount Rushmore like Gulliver’s Head mountain range by UKIP and Tory leaders to vote. Brexiteers with shrunken heads marauding the park, to show what explorers to other countries risk when they travel to places where their rule is not respected or required, ending up as trophies to ward other unwelcome visitors off. Mass scalped totems of pro candidates erected to show what used to happen during the exploration of the Americas and how indigenous people used to fight back against the colonists.
No different than the Brexit referendum itself where voters were targeted through social media, their feeds invaded by tailored propaganda of endless repeat images of queues of refugees lining up to get into the country or pictures of anything that they hold dear under attack. Cambridge Analytica paying Facebook to ensure that a voting public could be targeted, many living in formerly deprived areas who hoped that by voting ‘Leave’ they could be instrumental in forcing a change. If there had been a referendum to leave the empire how would the voters have been targeted, would it have been stories of the kingdom being toppled, all its constituent countries fleeing back in fear to the motherland? It wouldn’t have been a digital campaign but one by word by mouth, descriptions of desperate immigrants trying to enter their own countries, or worse still our own, security being tightened on borders to cope with supposedly ‘heavier’ influxes.