Skin (Here), 2018
Skin (Here) explores memory through the process of looking back. Photographs of the artists' friends and family have been sifted through, carefully selected, and cut up and collaged with text and sound to mimic the fragmented nature of memory.
Featured on Cryptofiction (2021) for 5Films by 5Filmmaker-artists, curated by Abbas Zahedi.
As a former medic, my approach to the arts was through the prism of care, which I sought in the tactile and affective processes involved in making work, and my desire to be attentive to the contextual nuances of each project. This aversion to taking anything for granted, is something which feels vital, as we learn how to live through an ongoing pandemic alongside a sense of multiplying crises. Thus, the invitation to curate these films fills me with a sense that I am administering a careful prescription - a kind of viewing experience that is drip-fed into one’s eyes, so as to fortify life, or perhaps serve as aesthetic intubation. What comes to mind is my clinical training in the early 2000s, seeing how hospitals were being kitted out with bedside TV units - such as those provided by Hospedia in over 130 NHS sites across the UK - where patients could drag down a screen extended from a mechanical arm overhead. Such services are criticised for profiteering from the most vulnerable and incapacitated members of society, and so in 2020, Hospedia offered free access to it’s content, which is usually kept behind a steep paywall. However, in January 2021, as the coronavirus pandemic exceeded the number of hospital admissions and deaths predicted in the first wave of the crisis, Hospedia reinstated increased charges to patients struggling to breathe and to maintain their mental health. As this paywall returned, I had been working with a collective of neurologists called Neurofringe, to pilot Sonic Support Group; a collaboration in which frontline workers and NHS staff were given special access to my locked down exhibition in an old Victorian sorting office in Chelsea, following its early closure just before Christmas. Witnessing medical professionals finding solace within an exhibition that I had initially prepared for an ‘art audience’ had a profound impact on my understanding of what was at stake - especially in terms of the intersections of contemporary art and public health. I came to realise again, the initial premise of care within my own work, and how relations and networks of interdependence can shift through the reframing of their wider contextual specificity. I believe it is this subconscious schema which fuelled much of my naïve ambition, to make both a physical and public artwork in the midst of such an alienating and precarious time. A time of crisis which onboarded us all en-masse into the metaverse of social media, online content delivery and video conferencing solutions, all of which are in the last stages of their dependence on the various types of screens that run their primary interface. I often find myself clinging to my phone or laptop with the same sense of reliance that I have seen from a sufferer of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) carrying a personal ventilation machine. It is with all of the above in mind, that I present this collection of works from an emerging group of lens-based practitioners, who are in their own personalised and different ways engaging with the idea: what next, with what came before?
Text by Abbas Zahedi, 2021.