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Keith Piper: Unearthing the Banker's Bones

  • Fri, 28 Oct 2016 - Sun, 22 Jan 2017
  • 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM
  • Tickets: Free

Renowned British artist Keith Piper’s new solo show presented by Bluecoat and Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts) comprises three new large-scale works spanning installation, digital works and drawings that address current anxieties about the impacts of globalisation. It is the most substantial presentation of the artist’s work in nearly two decades and celebrates the longstanding relationship between Piper, Bluecoat and Iniva which began over three decades ago.

Lending its title to the exhibition, the centrepiece of the show is 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 - Unearthing the Banker’s Bones (2016).

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. In the case of Unearthing the Banker’s Bones, this point in time is decades into the future. This narrative device – looking back on the present from the eyes of our descendents – is used by science fiction writers to analyse contemporary events with the distance that history gives us.

Alongside the film, ‘physical evidence’ such as ledgers belonging to the banker of the title, are displayed. These objects play off against the unfolding narrative of the film.  

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 Bones is a continuation of the social and political concerns that have informed Piper’s practice, from the very beginnings of his career as part of Britain’s BLK Art Group in the 1980s. The group fought to raise the profile of black artists through exhibitions and conferences, a contribution whose significance is only now being recognised in the development of 20th century British art.

Piper first exhibited at Bluecoat in Black Skin, Bluecoat in 1985. He returned in 1986 as part of New Contemporaries and again in 1992 with the groundbreaking commissioned project, Trophies of Empire.

Iniva first worked with Piper on his first major solo show Relocating the Remains in 1997 and later on the Keith Piper Club Mix, a digital media intervention in nightclubs across the UK. He has also featured key Iniva exhibitions including Boxer (1995) and Exiles,Strangers and Diasporas (2008)

Unearthing the Banker’s Bones will continue into 2017, marking the start of Bluecoat’s 300th anniversary year. 

View a selection of video stills and installation shots from the exhibition in our online gallery here.

(Keith Piper, Reviewing the Future in Broken English, Limited Edition Print)

Find out more about Keith Piper's limited edition print, including how to purchase, by clicking here.

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