Jet Black Futures Exhibition
I’m sitting in this quaint little cafe with my fellow 2nd Year Fine Art Students in the Beaconsfield Gallery. By way of introduction a lady, the host of the Gallery, explained that the Beaconsfield Gallery has represented artists work since 1995. She went on to explain that the building once was a school for the very poor children of the area which was called The Lambeth Ragged School. The school was built in 1851 by Henry Benjamin Hanbury Beaufoy. www.vauxhallhistory.org/lambeth-ragged-school/
We’re then invited to see the first installation, I’m so pleasantly surprised to see it is the work of one of our Fine Art teachers, Keith Piper, it is a video installation called Mic Drop.
The students move into a darkened, rugged space, there is a video already playing on a loop, we all gather in front of it, no idea what to expect. I’m fascinated and drawn in by the technique, having never attempted such an installation it was all so effective and powerful. I enjoyed the fast pace and constantly changing images alongside the narrative. Once the video is over, we all move out slowly on to the next installation.
I pass Mr Piper who sits calmly, quietly at a small table in the cafe and I exclaim how much I enjoyed it, he then mentions that there is a Symposium talk about it on Saturday 21st October and I should come along, “I might do that” I say as I head towards the second installation.
I walk into the bright space, again, not knowing what to expect. The room has white walls and is very spacious. There are three video images on three walls. The title comes up “Unearthing the Bankers Bones” I literally stand transfixed at the three images working together yet separate from each other with the narrative alone captivating the viewer with its meditative tone. I’m mesmerised by what I’m seeing and hearing. Not comprehending its full meaning but appreciating its creativity nonetheless. I have an emotion that I’ve never experienced before in my 50 plus years of creating art work, I’m uncertain what it is at the time of watching the video installation and even an hour or two after watching it, I then I discover later to my utter surprise that I am…intimidated! I have never been intimidated at another artists work, I usually look at work with appreciation and think “I see how they created it, I would’ve approached it similarly or done x y z differently” during Keith Pipers installation I look on, stuck in my awe for his work. I wanted to watch the video again but new we were restricted by time, I knew I could return another day and watch it again but I also knew I wouldn’t.
After watching ‘Unearthing the Bankers Bones’ I didn’t fully understand it. Was I supposed to understand it off the bat? I did some research about the installation for answers. What was Mr Piper relaying to the viewers?
I was over the moon to discover this video on YouTube created by Charles Havord about the artist Keith Piper and the installation Unearthing the Bankers Bones. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rd5XT3xkWxg
Mr Piper explains in the video;
‘The installation looks at a range of ways in which science-fiction has been used to view the present and so it’s story telling through a series of imagined novels or covers of imagined novels, which I’m calling Pulp Fiction, so its this way of attempting to use different ways of telling the same story, almost, in these different forms.
The strategy within the work is that one brings these bits of information, and they are clues and they are gestures, and they’re suggestions, they’re parts of things, which I then really want the audience to bring that together themselves to really begin to kind of piece together what they feel is a solution to a puzzle, or you think you resolved a puzzle. It somehow becomes a bit more satisfying than if you’re just presented with information’
The video clarified something for me, it was something for me to watch and then I am to draw my own conclusion, there wasn’t an obvious story. What I was watching was captivating, I wanted to understand its full meaning, I enjoyed not having the full answers. Watching the YouTube video about the installation enabled me to relax knowing the artist accomplished what he has set out to do, to get the viewer to think for themselves, almost to join in the creating of it.
I’m grateful to Keith Piper for his artistic contributions. Once you start to look into his life you realise how many stories he has to tell and has told over the years.
I believe there are many artistic giants in the land and I believe Keith Piper is one of them.