ACT 02084, 2016
Digitally-printed wallpaper and framed screenprint, 87 x 87cm
ACT 02084 adopts the semiotics of the ubiquitous airline safety card, using its comic-like visual form to tell a specific and true story of collective resistance. Mirza and Butlers practice aligns with activist politics, highlighting the ways in which we are all interconnected and complicit in one anothers lives, and holds a space for suppressed voices, histories and knowledge. Their focus is on making withdrawal visible, facilitating and acknowledging individual and collective agency. The wallpaper behind again, developed by the artists in Sydney using digitally-scanned hand-drawn imagery shows the ancient symbol of the uroboros, a snake or dragon eating its own tail, associated with notions of self-reflexivity, renewal and cyclicality. The uroboros has been described in Jungian psychology in archetypal terms as a representation of the pre-ego dawn state the undifferentiated infancy experience of all humankind.
Letter to the Left, 2016
ink on paper
Letter to the left draws on Ursula Le Guins utopian sci-fi novel of 1974, The Dispossessed, by etxnding an invitation to join Anarres, a planet with no government or economic system. Shevek is the books protoganist who travels between the two and who reappears in Mirza and Butlers Museum.
ACT 01788, 2016
digitally-printed wallpaper and ink on paper
Shevek resurfaces in the narrative of ACT 01788, intermingled with Silvia Federicis formative 2004 study, Caliban and the Witch, which examines the body and, in particular, womens bodies, in relationship to the transition from feudal to capitalist society. The ground for this work is a bespoke colonial wallpaper created by the artists which depicts a repeat pattern of hand-drawn imagery relating to local and global incidents of protest and resistance. Gleaned from a wide range of historical and artistic sources, images include a 1969 remonstration in front of the Chicago Federal Building by the Womens International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell (W.I.T.C.H.); an image of rose-shooting guns by street artist Shepard Fairey, itself appropriating a 1968 propaganda poster from the Chinese Cultural Revolution; the mythological harpy, a rapacious half-woman, half-bird monster whose name has come to refer to mean, nagging or predatory females; children jumping off the wharves at Woolloomooloo; iconic first contact imagery; and the International Monument that celebrates migration and the multi-ethnic community of Fairfield.
This series consists of real advice and propositions for protesters (Shoes that make it easy to run and move quickly; Scarf to protect your mouth and lungs from tear gas) overlaid with the artists graphic interventions that translate Arabic phonemes the building blocks of spoken words into idiosyncratic choreographic and musical scores. These layers of the real and the imagined, combine to create an absurdist manifesto, highlighting the difficulties of participation and non-participation alike.
Lit up in neon, You are the Prime Minister becomes an empowering invitation to take up the title role in a fantasy fiction. The statement is the start of a longer question drawn from a real scholarship exam for thirteen-year-old boys entering Eton College, an elite school that educated 19 of Britains prime ministers and 12 members of the current government. In response to this question, each young candidate is required to argue for the necessary and moral use of military force against civilian protesters, at his command. The examination question was leaked to the public by activists in 2011, the same year that riots spread across the UK in response to the fatal shooting of 29-year-old Mark Duggan by police.
The Museum of Non Participation sign acts both as a verb and a noun, a doing and a naming of the temporary and nomadic site of this Museum. Text as image, image as text, text as action. The sign invokes a language of resistance that questions our paradoxical, contemporary condition of participation and withdrawal. Its literal reading juxtaposes the Roman English and popular Urdu translation larta lucki ka ajib ghar, which when translated back into English reads: "the house of the unexpected. Thus hidden within both the language and the sign itself is praxis of intervention and disruption.
This work made for the Walker Arts Centre is based on four UN Resolutions on Iraq dated 1990(x2), 2002 and 2003. Each Resolution is one sentence, and each is significant not just in their claims and content, but also in their voice, grammar, sense of authority, and rule under law. Liberty is a founding and legitimising principle of the United States and liberalism in the U.S is a whole way of being and thinking. It is a type of relation between the governors and the governed, and there has never been a more concentrated vision of contemporary U.S. neo-liberal utopia than Bremers 100 orders in Iraq. These laws were put in place by the Bush administration who attempted to force more wrenching changes in one sweletering summer than the IMF has managed to enact over three decades in Latin America. These orders are core beliefs of the Neo-Conservatives and in this concentrated form it can be seen how far U.S liberal values have shifted from Roosevelt's Works Project Administration (which is a key part of the Walker Arts Centre history) to a vision of the Free Market.
Whilst Bremers Orders are the exclamation point in this work, the multiple marginalia on each Resolution go beyond the known facts as to how Iraq is being erased, implicating these UN resolutions as a script authored by the Deep State. That term is widely used in Turkey to address the largely covert state within the state that utilises violence and other means of pressure to manipulate political and economic elites, and to ensure specific interests are satisfied within a seemingly democratic political framework
52 pages. Typed, Pencil and ink
The Government Art Collection showcases British art in Government buildings including Downing Street, the Home Office and British Embassies and Residences in nearly every capital city across the world, and this is the first exhibition dedicated to this collection held in a public gallery in its 113 year history. This 2011 exhibition entitled At Work is curated by seven public figures: Lord Boateng, Nick Clegg, Samantha Cameron, Lord Mandelson, Dame Anne Pringle, Sir John Sawers and Ed Vaizey. [The Government Art Collection: At Work Exhibition Catalogue]
Here the Museum of Non Participation effaces the official exhibition catalogue for the Whitechapels 2011 exhibition At Work. Covering up all information about the artworks and leaving only the commentary by the public figures intact, this act of concealment intervenes to reveal the complex conditions within, and precarity of power and labour, that surround and permeate, the arts. It foregrounds the social relations and apparatus behind the distribution, ownership and purchasing of works and state responsibility to art. Shown here in dialogue with a pamphlet protesting the Whitechapel exhibition, the double-paradox of economic laundering is ushered forth.
Over 35 performances with passerby’s set in India and Pakistan. This object contains an invitation to interpret the work in response to: the changing site of each exhibition | the perceived thinking behind the work | and the screens, surfaces and props in each performance. Each film performance returns to the Modernist concerns within ‘Mirror Film’ by Robert Morris (1969) viewed through postmodern concerns that problematise the location of the performance and the issue of authorship.