We are delighted to present a major solo exhibition by artist Keith Piper featuring brand new works. Piper’s creative practice responds to specific social and political issues, historic relationships and geographical sites.
He was a founder member of the highly influential BLK Art Group and continues to create visually compelling and thought-provoking works of art. Jet Black Futures explores “issues of ‘race’, speculative futurism and technology, in the age of anxiety”.
In Search of Four Horses is an epic four screen video installation based around an exploration of the myth, metaphor and symbolism of the story of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The central character is journalist Kassandra who conducts a series of interviews investigating our hopes, fears and anxieties for the future. Her character is based on Cassandra from Greek mythology, who was given the power to predict the future. However, a cruel twist was added in that she would always be met with disbelief, scepticism and mistrust. Her research resonates with current debates around climate change, environmental degradation and social and economic inequalities.
The themes and issues addressed by Piper through this work are further elaborated in a series of banners.
The exhibition also includes the installation Surveillance: Tagging the Other (1991). This work was created in response to issues arising in the run-up to the instigation of the European Union in 1992. The four monitors, installed in a row, show the artist’s head being a target of surveillance and control. His body is scrutinised in terms of ethnicity, gender, citizenship and appearance. The soundtrack features fragments of news reports related to the rise of racist attacks, anti-Semitism and right-wing tendencies across Europe. Although it was made over thirty years ago, the work remains hauntingly pertinent today.
Piper’s powerful immersive installations are characteristically underpinned by rigorous research, collaboration and captivating storytelling.
A publication will accompany the exhibition with essays by Keith Piper and Anjalie Dalal-Clayton. It is published with partners Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Middlesex University London with support from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.
Supported by a Publication Grant from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.
A performance by Jaz Morrison, Ikon Youth Programme, Millicent James and Word Life Corral.
Saturday 23 April, 3pm
Artist and writer Jaz Morrison will showcase MOTHERSHIP with Ikon Youth Programme (IYP), cellist & composer Millicent James, and the Word Life Corral at The New Art Gallery Walsall in response to Keith Piper’s Jet Black Futures. Reflecting Piper’s methods of story-telling and foretelling, Morrison will consider the themes of surveillance, technology and Afrofuturism through performance.
Free. All welcome, no need to book.
In this short film, artist Keith Piper talks about new work made for the exhibition Jet Black Futures currently on display until 24 April.
Keith Piper grew up in Birmingham and studied in Coventry, Nottingham and the Royal College of Art, London. He was a founder member of what came to be known as the BLK Art Group which was formed in Wolverhampton in the early 1980s with a range of artists including Eddie Chambers, Claudette Johnson, Donald Rodney and Marlene Smith. Against a context of political unrest and widespread racial discrimination, these artists fought for their place in the art world and paved the way for the career development of many other artists as well as forcing the sector to confront the harsh reality of institutional racism. His initial interests in collage and print media contributed to a pioneering use of early computer technology, not only as a tool for video editing and effects but also for its potential interactivity. Piper works across a wide range of media. He has shown his work extensively with many solo exhibitions including Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, Camden Arts Centre, London and The New Museum, New York. Recent exhibitions include Body Politics at Wolverhampton Art Gallery (2019), Mic Drop at Beaconsfield Gallery, London (2017) and Unearthing the Banker’s Bones at Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool and New Art Exchange, Nottingham (2016-17).