Photography Charles Dennington
|Karen Mirza and Brad Butler:
316-318 Bethnal Green Road
Karen Mirza and Brad Butlers work spans filmmaking, installation, drawing,
publishing and curating. The artists draw influence from critical
moments of change, protest and debate. This includes an accumulation of works entitled The Museum of Non Participation
(2009-present). The term non participation for the duo is a device for
questioning and challenging current conditions of political involvement
and resistance. The Museum of Non Participation embeds its
institutional critique in its very title, yet it releases itself from
being an actual museum. Instead it travels as a place, a slogan, a
banner, a performance, a newspaper, a film, an intervention, an
occupation: situations that enable this museum to act.
Recent exhibitions include The Embassy of non Participation at The Sydney Biennale, (April-June 2016), MIRRORCITY at the Hayward Gallery (October - January 2015) The Unreliable Narrator at the Whitechapel Gallery (Jan-March 2015) The New Deal
at the Walker Art Centre (April - July 2013), Guest of Citation at Performa 13 (2013). The Museum of non Participation was
for the 2014/15 Artes Mundi 6 Award for visual artists who engage with the
human condition, social reality and lived experience. They are the recipients of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Visual Arts 2015.
Karen Mirza and Brad Butler are also the founders of the artist film and video space: no.w.here, now in its 10th year.
Forthcoming in 2018 will be a new body of work The Scar in collaboration with HOME, Khiasma, The Delfina Foundation and Film London.
Early works by Mirza and Butler (available from LUX) emerged from their interest in seminal avant-garde film. Non Places (1999) is a contemporary take on the constructivist films of the 1920s; Where a Straight Line Meets a Curve (2003) drew inspiration from the use of resonant frequencies in Alvin Luciers I am Sitting in a Room (1970). Mirza/Butler often took a single visual observation as a point of departure, such as the space between tower blocks in The Space Between (2005), the gesture of performing a 360 degree walking rotation with a camera in Structural Constellation (2006) or the cinematic principles inherent in photo realist painting in The Glass Stare (2006). Within these works Mirza and Butler intertwine a range of visual and conceptual languages, combining analytical and experimental sequences to create open-ended works.
Since 2007 they have pursued a strain of practice entitled The Museum of Non Participation (www.musumofnonparticipation.org). This was born during a visit to the newly opened National Gallery of Art in Islamabad. As Mirza and Butler stood inside a controversial gallery of paintings representing the body, they witnessed the large scale protests of the Lawyers Movement through a window in the museum. In that stark collision of art and political praxis, the project germinated and has subsequently remained intent on interrogating the interrelationship of politics and art, implication, participation and potential for active agent withdrawal.
Out of that initial formation, Mirza and Butler produced The Exception and the Rule (2010) a non-documentary that seeks new directions for ethnographic film. The Museum of Non Participation was developed through an Artangel Interaction commission which included a month long public-programme behind a Bethnal Green barbers (2010) and a collaboration with the largest circulating Pakistani broadsheet, The Daily Jang. In 2011 new acts within the collection of The Museum of Non Participation took place at ZKM Karlsruhe and at the Arnolfini Bristol, followed by a film work entitled Deep State (2012) a science fiction inflected protest "training film" made in collaboration with author China Mieville which takes as its starting points different moments of political struggle, informed particularly by current revolutionary processes taking place in Egypt and close collaboration with the Cairo media collective Mosireen (http://www.mosireen.org/). A sister film to Deep State, Hold Your Ground was conceived as a form of protest in Canary Wharf Tube Station in Spring 2012 against the ongoing political injunction initiated during the 2011 St Pauls Occupation by The Canary Wharf Group against any form of gathering or protest in the capital of the banking district.
Recent exhibitions include The Museum of non Participation: The New Deal
at the Walker Art Centre (April - July 2013), Gestures of Citation at Performa 13 (2013) and MIRRORCITY at the Hayward Gallery (October
- December 2014). The Museum of non Participation was
for the 2014/15 Artes Mundi 6 Award for visual artists who engage with
human condition, social reality and lived experience. They are the
recipients of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Visual Arts 2015.