Bluecoat: Keith Piper, Unearthing the Banker’s Bones
Dates: 28/10/2016 - 22/01/2017
Times: All Day
This October, artist Keith Piper will return to Bluecoat, Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts, with a major solo exhibition presented in partnership with Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts).
Unearthing the Banker’s Bones comprise three new large-scale works
Lending its title to the exhibition, the centerpiece of the show will be a new Arts Council Collection 70th Anniversary commission comprising of three synchronised high definition video projections, which depict a narrative of economic and social collapse — s Bones. Drawing on extracts from apocalyptic works by Octavia Butler and Mary Shelley, the film employs a science fiction device which invites viewers to imagine the excavation and dissection of modern life from a future point in time. Alongside the film, ‘physical evidence’ such as ledgers belonging to the banker of the title, will be displayed. These objects play off against the unfolding narrative of the film.
Speaking about the commission, Keith Piper said: “Unearthing the Banker’s Bones is a work emerging out of a period of research into science fiction as a space in which metaphors around social, racial and class anxieties are played out.
“Weaving together references drawn from a diverse range of classic novels, films and other texts, I am attempting to employ visual montage to play with notions of landscape and history painting, to devise a narrative played out across a triptych of video screens. The story that unfolds will be one of exploration, excavation and autopsy as a way of examining the present from an imagined future.”
Other highlights of the exhibition at Bluecoat include Robot Bodies, Piper’s 1988 seminal interactive digital work – updated and re-programmed for this exhibition – in which the robot, android and cyborg are examined as metaphorical carriers of contemporary anxieties around racial difference; and a series of mixed media works on un-stretched canvas, ‘future projected history paintings of the present’, that reference 19th century history painting and have been commissioned by Bluecoat and Iniva.
Unearthing the Banker’s Bonesth
The collaboration between Bluecoat and Iniva in bringing the exhibition to fruition celebrates the close relationship that both institutions have had with Piper since the start of his career in the 1980s.
Black Skin, Bluecoat
Iniva first worked with Keith Piper on his first major solo show Relocating the Remains in 1997 and it toured internationally. It was accompanied by a monograph of the same name with a significant essay by renowned art historian Kobena Mercer. Later, Iniva and Piper collaborated on the Keith Piper Club Mix, a digital media intervention in nightclubs across the UK. He has also featured in a number of key Iniva exhibitions and publications including Boxer (1995) and Exiles, Strangers and Diasporas (2008).