Holding Company

Art for oil; protest and dystopianism


St Pauls – a late afternoon plunge, from Flooded London, 2009 by Squint Opera, a series imagining London in 2090.

The 2010 Art For Oil Diary is available now, price £5, full of illustrations like Squint Opera’s depiction of a man diving into the flooded ruins of St Paul’s Cathedral in a London flooded by rising waters. It’s a good snapshot of art as agitprop, containing works by Peter Kennard & Cat Picton PhillippsBeehive CollectivePedro Inoue and the Ultimate Holding Company.

If you want to argue that agit-prop strenghtens the resolve of the converted and increases the distance between them and those whose minds really do need to change then this is a casebook study, but hey, as a mass of work it does have real energy. The works that don’t beat you over the head with visions of a dystopian future often work better, like UHC’s trees breathe, ads suck taken from their Spring Shrouds series, originally commissioned by agit-comedian Mark Thomas, in which the Manchester collective covered 100 ad shells with plain white shrouds.

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

In praise of the Boring Milipede

Boring Milipede

Erratic Ant

Hornet Robberfly

Orange Roughy

Elegant Earthstar…

Today I am giddy with the found poetry of the names of endangered British species. A member of the Arts & Ecology ning has posted news of an imaginative new artwork by the Ultimate Holding Company collective in Manchester. extInked starts on November 19 November 12 as an exhibition of drawings of 100 endangered species from the UK. From November 26 tattooists start to ink those drawings onto the skin of 100 volunteers. Each illustrated person then becomes an “ambassador” for the threatened species their body plays host to. The exhibition has been arranged with the support of the Marine Conservation Society, Buglife – the Invertebrate Conservation Trust and the People’s Trust for Endangered Species.

The announcement of the exhibition came with the full list of the 100 species that the artwork was focussing on:

Scarlet Malachite Beetle

Soprano Pipistrelle

Noble Chafer

Wormwood Moonshiner Beetle

Noctule…

We tattoo our skin with the names of our loved ones. This artwork seems to question how much we love these declining species. ExtInct makes me think of the project the writer and journalist Caspar Henderson has been working on, The Book of Barely Imagined BeingsThe Anthropocene extinction, human imagination, and what comes next. In his explanation for the project he comes out with a brilliant phrase which has stuck in my head ever since I first read it:

Most real creatures that we think we know embody wonders we have hardly dreamt of.

Read more about extInked., (includes the full list of 100 species.)

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology