Marcus Harvey and Bouchra Khalili explore cultural and national identity through different media – Marcus in sculptures, ceramics and paintings; Bouchra with film and video installation, photography and prints
BREXIT raises the question about Britain’s future role in the modern world. What is Britishness and what will it mean in the future as Britain pulls away from Europe and charts a new course? Marcus Harvey’s paintings and sculptures in Gimme Shelter at Vigo in London explores Britain’s future – and its past. Will Britain become an isolated island off the coast of Europe, or will it retain a central position in world politics, a stepping stone between Europe and other parts of the world? Britain is a relatively small island that is overpopulated, with pressures on housing, hospitals and schools, with a proud history linked to inventiveness, trade and culture, but also with some dark moments. Cultural icons like Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher and footballs are all meshed together to create Britain’s unique culture. How can Britain accept its history, both good and bad, and use it to shape its future?
Just as Britain’s history is linked to journeys, exploration and making of maps, along with navigation across the globe, Moroccan-French artist Bouchra Khalili, at the Lisson Gallery, explores a different culture and a different part of the world with the multi-media installation The Mapping Journey Project projecting eight narrated films onto screens showing the tortuous journeys which individuals agree or are forced to undertake to seek a better life for political, economic or other reasons as they cross borders illegally, with the lines of the journeys recorded in prints like constellations of stars, referring back to navigation through astrology, while Foreign Office focuses on Algiers between 1962 and 1972 when it was the home of revolutionary and anti-colonial groups such as the African National Congress (ANC) and Black Panthers, including photographs of key locations, now empty and eerie, historic and haunting as the past continues to influence the future.