The World is a Work in Progress
Ruth Beale is a London-based artist who works collectively and collaboratively, exploring the ways that culture, governance and social discourse create society. Her practice includes socially-engaged processes, as well as drawing, performance, film and installation. For this exhibition, Ruth has compiled a library drawn from her father’s extensive collection of science fiction books. The library is presented houses within custom-built shelves that reference HG Wells’ novel ‘Men Like Gods’ (1923) which takes place within a parallel utopian universe. Visitors are invited to dip into these many and varied speculative worlds, that perhaps tell us more about the hopes and fears of the times in which they were written than the futures that they attempt to predict.
Michael Forbes is an artist whose practice explores blackness and whiteness in relation to contemporary racial politics, migration, history and religion. His work encompasses sculpture, installations, photography, digital media and curation. Attenborough Arts Centre has commissioned Michael to create five new sculptures for inclusion in ‘The World is a Work in Progress’. Presented alongside a selection of the artist’s Black Paintings, the works explore blackness and whiteness and the harmful consequences of a society that promotes division and accepts white supremacy.
Michael has exhibited nationally and internationally, at venues including; Royal Sculpture Society, Saatchi Gallery, White Cube, Yinka Shonibare’s Guest Projects, and the 57th Venice Art Biennale. He is currently undertaking a residency at Yorkshire Sculpture Park and in 2020 he was awarded an MA in Sculpture from the Royal College of Art.
Working across collage, drawing, textiles, digital media, sculpture, video and text, Khush Kali uses the remixing of patterns, images, rituals and processes to explore identity, cultural heritage, personal history and the everyday experience of the urban environment. Khush will be working with a group of young people in Beaumont Leys to create a series of Augmented Reality artworks in response to Ruth Beale’s installation. The results will appear in the exhibition after October half term, when visitors will be able to interact with the works via their own smart devices in the exhibition space.
Vince Laws is a poet, artist, performer, and campaigner. He is interested in taking poetry off the page and into paintings, text art, posters, films, concepts, installations, and performance. Since 2014 Vince has been engaged in an ongoing campaign to highlight the deaths of disabled people dealing with the Department for Work and Pensions. So far, he has made 25 shrouds collectively titled ‘DWP Deaths Make Me Sick’. Each shroud commemorates the life of a named person who died as a result of the ‘hostile environment’ for disabled people created by the DWP. Vince has described the painful process of making the shrouds, driven by the need to keep on shouting about the human rights abuses of the current government: “They are very sad. But also very powerful because they are the truth.”
Best known for the works ‘Make Art Not War’ (1997) and ‘Letter to Michael Gove’ (2011), Bob and Roberta Smith believes that art is an important element in democratic life. A British artist who trained as a sign painter in New York, Bob and Roberta uses text as an art form, creating colourful slogans on banners and placards that challenge elitism and advocate the importance of creativity in politics and education. Alongside a selection of recent works, we will be presenting ‘Help Art Save Lives’, developed by Bob & Roberta Smith and Jessica Voorsanger. This participatory initiative invites visitors to create an artwork of their own that can be sold for a small donation to a life–saving charity. The exhibition will include a new collaborative artwork created by Bob & Roberta Smith and Jessica Voorsanger.
Kai Syng Tan is a UK-based artist, curator, consultant, academic, hyperactive running-messenger, atypical Octopussy and Exceptionally Talented Mind-Full BusyBody Extraordinaire. She mobilises artistic and artful processes across disciplinary/cultural/geopolitical borders to catalyse conversations and actions for change.
In response to the provocation that ‘The World is a Work in Progress’, Kai has created an installation and durational performance titled ‘A Neuro-Futuristic 2050’. With this new work the artist asks us to consider the question: what would a neurodiversity-led reality look like? She proposes that art has a vital role to play in creating bold visions of how things might be better, and that each of us can play an active part in that process. Encompassing video, performance, print and large-scale tactile tapestry in an oversaturated, over the top, tentacular presentation, ‘A Neuro-Futuristic 2050’ is a call to action that references more-than-human, non-western philosophy, and draws on Chinese body-mind-place poetics, as performed by an Octopussy. At various moments throughout the exhibition the artist will host live performances and conversations with visitors and special guests, in the gallery and online.