I started out as a musician & performer, and would describe my sensibility as “late 20th century California smart-ass,” in spite of living in the UK for the last 24 years. My practice springs from a deep love of popular culture, and a car crash fascination/fear of the tensions between institutions, capital & class. I am particularly interested in the places where mass culture and resistance collide.
I have always been a political animal, but my work has become very politically focused since 2015. Watching the use/abuse of political symbols during the British election & Brexit, & now the reigning shit show of the Trump Presidency – it’s pretty traumatic, isn’t it?
In the past, I’ve done films & sound collage, but the current work I am making with flags & currency has taken me into objects & performance. Actually, I can strggle w/ the word ‘performance’, since it means a very specific thing to me, but I am developing a socially engaged practice, where things can be performed or engaged out in the wild, but can also translate to gallery display. I think my real work is the conversation that comes out of these gestures.
I am currently deep in the flags of the Altered States series. Feelings of national identity are being hijacked, & nostalgia is weaponised to ‘other’ & exclude outsiders. What does it mean to be British, to be American? Can we pry these symbols loose from their nationalistic narrative, so that they may be more inclusive? Can we awaken a conscience within, to bring the better - & braver – angels of our nature into play? National flags are often soaked in blood, & loaded with ugly, racist history, but we abandon them at our peril. Is a national symbol capable of owning its own truth? Can we make peace with it, & amend our trajectory? Dare we hope for something better?
I hope Broom of the System operates in a similar way. By sweeping pennies – very dull, low-value objects that function as placeholders – I can play with the notion of money & other forms of capital. The pennies are an article of faith in something much bigger, a system that has life or death consequences for all of us. What if we can render it meaningless for a few minutes, get out from under it? I am interested in the variety of reactions, because there is a radical difference between sweeping pennies in a playground to sweeping pennies up the walkway of the museum, or around the Bank of England.