Is it just me, or is it you?
Preview of a Major Project by Amartey Golding
Saturday 24th February 2018
Drinks and Meet the Artist 6-8.30pm
Amartey Golding on the Project
'At a time when legacies of exploitation such as race, gender and class are at the forefront of national conversation, Is it just me, or is it you? offers an honest and self implicating observation. Using an all black male cast and my own experience of being black British as an entry point to the subject, Is it just me or is it you? creates a fictional world of archetypes and ceremonies, where we can observe and scrutinize the drivers that may have led us to this point
Is it just me, or is it you? is an ambitious body of work that has taken me 2 years to complete and is my largest solo show to date. The exhibition includes 3 films, photographic series, handmade chainmail garments collectively weighing almost half a tonne and CRITS- a documentary project using a ‘Gogglebox style’ interview process to gain the candid and, at times, hilarious critical analysis of this project, from my nearest and dearest to total strangers.
The exhibition is centred around the idea of ‘the other’ and follows the participants of the fictional chainmail culture which I created in 2015. Referencing music videos, anthropology, human zoos, documentaries and reality tv, the show questions our ideas of self and the pathological processes we use to distance ourselves ideologically from the people (and things) around us. The show looks at the dynamics of victimhood, the cultural conceptions of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ and more importantly the point at which they contradict each other and how those contradictions manifest themselves in our contemporary human experience.
I have used my family and friends as the subjects of the show, taking most of the photos in my bedroom, making myself both the voyeur and the subject. The characters throughout exhibition are all clad in intricate chainmail garments, which I started making when my godson lost two close friends to knife crime in separate, unrelated incidents within a week. I started looking at chainmail as a protective precaution for the people at risk and the arduous task of making it became a mourning process.
The Chainmail’s contradictory symbolism and materiality lent itself perfectly to the themes in my work. The chainmail, in its original capacity, symbolises both life and death; by saving the life of the wearer, it enables them to take the life of another. The symbolism of the material became a vehicle for exploring the most brutal and beautiful of human traits, resulting in the development of an entire culture centred around it. This reference to survival, our primal drivers and the way they are unavoidable in everything we do is at the centre of the show and the chainmail acts as a constant reminder of this throughout. In Is it just me, or is it you?, like all of my work, I use myself as an example highlighting my own fallibility and vulnerability in exploring everyone’s inability to avoid blame or receive apology.
Throughout the first month of the show, visitors will be able to put themselves forward to take part in the CRIT for Is it just me, or is it you? which will be premiered and added as part of the exhibition for the rest of the show.
MORE INFO ON CRITS - CRITS is an ongoing project that invites people to discuss my latest exhibitions from the comfort of their living rooms or their local haunt. CRITS aims to change the inaccessible connotations around discussing art and hopes to encourage a more realistic tone to the conversations, similar to the way we enjoy talking about football or a film, inviting people from all walks of life to discuss ‘high art,’ bringing candid opinions and variety of perspectives into the conversation. CRITS, came about because I was tired of having my family and friends afraid to comment on my work because they “don’t know anything about Art,” despite the fact that only two minutes prior, they had been discussing, in depth, the issues present in my work. The aim of CRITS is to display the relevance everyone's personal experiences play in the Arts as a whole, and how, most of the time, the people who feel they are the least qualified to talk on Art tend to bring the most insight to it.' Amartey Golding February 2018