Place, People, & Identity —

A few things that go together:

At the moment I’m on the look out for instances where people visually communicate where they’re from in bold and colourful ways. 

 

I first got interested in the film The Warriors as part of a workshop I was running, around the topic of urban spaces and identity. It’s an amazing film that sees a gang dislocated from their main Coney Island turf and subsequently fighting their way back through a series of rival gangs. Each group wears their back story on their sleeves, The Orphans wear rags and have razor blades whilst The Baseball Furies are a baseball gang with the fiercest face paint I’ve ever seen. Each member has an identity built from their gangs kit of parts (hair cuts, uniforms, weapons, patterns), this results in a sophisticated ‘same but different’ look amongst the members of each gang and the cumulative effect is both visually striking and laden with narrative.

 

I saw these Asafo flags in the Artist and Empire show at the Tate Britain. From what I can gather the Asafo Companies were and are a hierarchical people’s militia of the Akan societies of Ghana, with influence extending more broadly to act as social and political organisations. The areas colonial past can be read in the morphed Union Jacks in canton (meaning the upper left quadrant of the flag), each flag has a wide, patterned border, and each depict allegorical fight scenes. These flags become identifiers for the various Companies of Asafo. Their interest to me is in their variety within the constraints of the vernacular graphics.

 

The Palio is a horse race in Siena. Characterised as violent, dangerous, and intensely political it’s been running twice a year since the 1600s. Spectators from ten city wards gather to watch their champion race for the glory of their part of town. The horses, riders, and spectators are covered in banners of the 17 various contrade colours. As Wikipedia says: “Each is named after an animal or symbol and each with its own long history and complicated set of heraldic and semi-mythological associations.”For example, Bruco means caterpillar and it’s residents were traditionally in the silk trade. The amazing thing here is the pride, fervour, and consistency with which each contrada’s colour is applied. I found it through this BBC programme: The Toughest Horse Race in the World: Palio

 

I want to make work on the internet while it’s still there — JODI —

I went to a talk at Goldsmiths by artists JODI. The piece of work that struck me most was the mobile game they developed called .ZYX. The game makes use of the sensors in the users phone, the accelerometer, the gyroscope etc. as interaction devices. In order to get to the next level, the player must for example spin around clockwise 10 times, or hold the phone still on top of their head for 2 minutes.

 

Alice Anderson at the Wellcome Collection —

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Things wrapped in copper thread. It’s a deceptively simple artistic process but the result is stunning. Helped along by the fantastic lighting design the ideas of concealment, repetition, abstraction, scale, and familiarity changed as you walked through the space and the pieces caught the light differently – interactivity at it’s simplest and effective. The images here show the range of scales the work takes, ‘Geometries 64 Shapes’, a collection of small objects on a wall, and ‘Ropes’, a 250m long installation that you could get inside and walk around. 

 
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I really liked how the thread brought the objects back to a collection of simple shapes, with what looked like dull planes and then as you moved they shimmered with texture. The original objects were physically there but, like a palimpsest, were ghosted and built on top of when given their copper lustre. My favourite piece wasn’t on a postcard: ‘Jars’ from Anderson’s site is below. Wellcome Collection link here.