Curated by AV Festival 2016: Meanwhile, what about Socialism? as part of the Festival group exhibition across nine venues in Newcastle and Gateshead.
The exhibition includes work by the following artists and archives: Thomas Spence (UK), Amber Films (UK), Jack Common/North East Film Archive (UK), Tim Brennan (UK), Hugo Canoilas (Portugal), Dan Perjovschi (Romania), Madhusudhanan (India), Pallavi Paul (India), Haim Sokol (Russia), R.E.P. (Ukraine), Claire Fontaine (France).
This new installation by Hugo Canoilas creates a tension between the past and present, making it contemporary ‘like a knife with two blades’. It brings together his ongoing concerns around social discrepancy with readings on capitalism and Marxism including George Orwell, Pierre Joseph Proudhon’s The Philosophy of Misery, Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and more recently The Manifesto Against Labour by Group Krisis. Canoilas’s paintings are acts of suspension and confrontation, layers of diagrammatic symbols, signs and texts between the abstract and the figurative.
The new work extends this idea further by turning the gallery into a fake grotto. Viewers can search with a light in the darkness, veiling and unveiling images, rendering a general view of the whole impossible. For Canoilas, the real material of art is the interconnection of things. The cave reflects these social, artistic and political interrelations and clichés by simultaneously building and erasing fragments of social realist imagery, propaganda, miners’ banners, newspaper clipping and political texts. As the artist states ‘Labour can be seen here as the metaphorical chains that don’t allow us to see the world differently, like the three slaves in Plato’s cave who only see their shadows.’
The Festival title comes from a quote in George Orwell's book 'The Road to Wigan Pier', which is the thematic framework for AV Festival 2016-2018. In 1936, Orwell spent two months living in the industrial North observing working-class life amidst growing social injustice, poverty and unemployment. The book is an analysis of English socialism, concluding that the basis of democratic socialism is equality and fairness.
Mirroring the book's structure, AV Festival 2016 is Part One, with artists situating themselves in relation to historic and contemporary political struggle. Presented in 14 venues the programme features 12 solo installations, 48 film screenings, nine artist talks and four performances.
For more information about the whole AV Festival programme please visit: www.avfestival.co.uk