We hear Louis and Robbie describe how modifying cars was not only a determining process of self-schooled ingenuity, but a portal into a range of creative subcultures.
We learn about the impact that this subculture has had on the lives of those involved across generations from education to increasing their sense of worth, commitment and community.
The film reflects explores their manoeuvres around the pressures associated with contemporary working culture (including the increasing automation of work that threatens the livelihoods of precariat workers).
Manoeuvres journeys through an expansive empty landscape.
The LED lit spaces reference the culture of car modification. These modified settings also recall repurposed industrial spaces, evoking free parties and clubs.
For Marx, mechanised and stratified society enforced self-alienation, but Manoeuvres asks the viewer to consider alienation in a slightly different light.
Manoeuvres asks the viewer to consider who has the right to inhabit public spaces and to question the way spaces are controlled and managed by private interest.
Manoeuvres was created as part of my Kahoon residency at SET Gallery, exploring social class and social mobility (funded by Arts Council England).
The Way Things Go (1987) by Swiss artists Fischli and Weiss followed a seemingly endless causal chain reaction of objects and elements. The subsequent Honda car advertisement, The Cog (2003), set up the illusion of causation.
In disregarding the need for the chain to actually function, The Cog is indicative of a shift from industry to an experience economy. The impact of this cultural shift is evident in how we consume creative experiences (which are a significant component of cultural and economic life).
Visiting an exhibition is a creative experience where the viewer primarily takes home an experience that is more connected to personal enrichment and community benefit than material services. This poster and statement acts as a memento that you are invited to take home.
To create Manoeuvres I spent a number of months seeking voices to examine issues connected with social mobility. By exploring the experiences of a former colleague at Swindon College (Louis Castle) I discovered a strong overlap between our inclusive, pedagogical approaches and attitude towards creative freedom.
In meeting Swindon college student Robbie Eatwell, I gained insight into a more youthful perspective on these ideas and practices. We hear Louis and Robbie describe how modifying cars was not only a determining process of self-schooled ingenuity, but a portal into a range of creative subcultures.
Like many towns, Swindon is a place where trickle-down economics has proved a leaky reality.
Once famous for railways (and more recently for the impending closure of the Honda car factory) Swindon is a relic of industrialisation in the process of adapting to a new era.
There are a few galleries in Swindon and grass roots discussion of using boarded-up shops as cultural venues, but the most famous attraction in Swindon remains the STEAM museum (which harks back to the days of the railway).
This reflects how creative experiences are not yet promoted as an important part of cultural or economic life in Swindon.
It is also the seat of a very ancient kingdom: Wiltshire, a place that has been and is witness to free parties and raves, Druidical and New Age gatherings, and car meets.
In 1999 and 2002 Swindon was denied city status. The council determined that reapplying in 2012 would not be within the economic interests of the town.
For Marx, mechanised and stratified society enforced self-alienation. Manoeuvres journeys through an expansive landscape that could seem alienating.
The ambiguous and staged sites in the film recall repurposed industrial spaces (evoking free parties and clubs) in a humorous way and invite us to reconsider alienation in a slightly different light.
Collaboration is an intrinsic part of my process and I shot and edited Manoeuvres with filmmaker and collage artist Tommy Chavannes.
Riffing off my collection of car adverts, car meet and Video Jockey footage, Tommy then generated the animated graphics using his cut-up collage aesthetic.
The music accentuates the psychological and emotional experiences Louis and Robbie relate to us and breaks into the narrative in a way that mirrors counter-culture and underground activity.
I downloaded the music from an online platform that describes itself as an audio resource and musicians’ community. This attitude towards free sharing of samples and collaborative movement of material is redolent of the free party culture the music pays homage to.
The poster evokes the promotional souvenirs of Super Clubs and was created in close collaboration with Pablo Molina Larrosa (a community-engaged graphic designer from SET).
Manoeuvres focuses on the culture of car meets in South West England, an area highly dependent on car industries at risk of failing, with factories threatened with imminent closure.
Discussed by those within the community, the film reflects empathetically on the role that car meets and modifications have had on the lives of those involved and asks the viewer to question who has the right to inhabit public spaces, and to dictate the behaviours displayed there.
I also organised a community BBQ and car meet at SET (mixing mechanics, local residents and gallery visitors). I showed slide documentation of this event and Manoeuvres alongside Mitchell Volwes film It’s still banging in 2019′ at our Word Of Mouth exhibition, 2019 SET Gallery, Bermondsey.
About Kahoon Projects
Kahoon Projects is a collaborative project that provides a platform for contemporary artists from working-class backgrounds, and through which to develop the contemporary understanding of the term ‘working-class’.
The project provides space for open discussion about this difficult topic, promoting ideas and voices of artists who are from diverse working-class communities from across the UK and beyond.
The project is led by Alex Bickley Trott (Oxford Brookes University) and Roland Fischer-Vousden (SET), and in 2019 was based around a series of artist residencies, with accompanying community outreach events, and performance, poetry, music and film nights.
Kahoon residency at SET
Kahoon Projects were paid according to Arts Council England’s guidance for fair pay in the creative industries. The residency was suported by SET and Oxford Brookes University.
The residencies and final exhibitions were held at SET Bermondsey. SET is an artist-led charity that repurposes disused spaces into SET centres, in which it builds communities of artists and develops its broad arts and educational programme, SET projects.
For curator reflections Click Here.