Yesterday i had the good fortune to visit the Beaconsfield Gallery in Vauxhall as part of the TRAIN events of this week.
The gallery was presenting the latest work by the prolific artist: Keith Piper, a three-channel video installation titled Unearthing the Banker’s Bones. The video tackles a theme that is both ancient and very current at the same time, the demise of the human race and the dystopian world we are living in and/or heading towards.
The piece uses as it’s starting point multiple literary examples such as Mary Shelley and Octavia Butler, as key examples of the literary projection of contemporary anxieties into an imagined future, combined with ideas by the poet and musician Jalal Mansur Nuridin.
The film is a combination of moving image, photography, drawings and paintings collaged together to form a coherent story around our current socio-political situation, referencing migration, greed, and environmental issues. Throughout the film an unidentified narrator takes us through the journey with the main characters; the trickster Surmanankin ( from Nuridin’s poem) who is a shape-shifting android , and the banker.
The issues raised by this artwork represents themes that were and are quite prominent in my life. I have been a transhumanist (because of the overwhelming death-anxiety I have been struggling with in the past) looking for the cure for death. While researching these issues, and working through them, I reached a more fatalistic state in which the end of the world seemed inevitable due to human destruction. After that I found some positive themes and actions through Gaia Vince’s Adventures in the Anthropocene and other similar writings, that encouraged a less negative world-view.
I found the experience uplifting and reassuring, partly because I felt a kinship with the presented ideals, and partly because of the excellence of the artwork.