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Season of Protest and Activism at New Art Exchange

Article/review for Visit Nottinghamshire/New Art Exchange.
From the legend of Robin Hood, to the Luddites, to it's pockets of independent communities, Nottingham has long worn the tattoo of a rebel city. As part of the Season of Protest and Activism at the New Art Exchange this Autumn, the gallery is hosting a series of exhibitions and events to celebrate the city’s rebellious spirit, as well as movements of political defiance around the world.

Fighting Walls: Street Art in Egypt and Iran & A Rebel Scene
The exhibition brings together Egypt and Iran to explore the shared ways in which each distinct nation has responsed to unease between governing powers and civilians. In the absence of free speech, artists have taken to the walls of their cities to open a dialogue between the general population, activist groups and governmental powers, as well as using urban artforms to protest and express their views.
The lower floor gallery is set out to replicate the streets of Tehran and Cairo, featuring large scale images of bona-fide graffiti pasted on to the gallery walls. As well as photographs, there are also posters, murals and even a video game which disguise messages in visual forms. It was interesting to distinguish which artworks had been censored by the authorities to change the message they relay.
The locally focused part of the exhibition draws on Nottingham’s history of rebellion, from the 1950s race riots to mining strikes, and from women's liberation protests through to the city's recent involvement in the Black Lives Matter campaign. Archive material from Nottingham’s ‘Sparrows Nest’ anarchist library are on display alongside specially commissioned collages from women’s groups, documenting the momentum of the city’s past and current activism.
Jimmy Cauty’s Aftermath Dislocation Principle
Artist Jimmy Cauty's latest project may be small in scale, but it is by no means subtle. As one half of The KLF, best known for it’s divisive million-pound-burning arts incarnation, The K Foundation, Cauty is not known for following the rules.
Encased within a graffiti-sprawled 40ft shipping container on a busy street in Hyson Green, the ADP is a model of a city in chaos, created in minute but extraordinary detail. Based on a 'post-riot landscape', where only the police and evidence of an uprising remain, the dystopia inside is complete with flashing blue lights, sirens, spray painted slogans and shadowy crime scenes, creating a mood that feels at once exciting and uncomfortable.
The ADP appeared in Banksy’s Dismaland last summer, and has since been touring areas of the UK with a reputation for rebellion. Whilst at the New Art Exchange, visitors can peer through peepholes and use the context of the 1958 race riots, 1981 riots in Hyson Green and the 2011 youth riots to consider how Nottingham’s rebels have shaped the fiercely unique city we know today.

Project Tags

  • Art
  • Activism
  • Cities

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