Keith Piper
Jet Black Futures

Keith Piper, Surveillance: Tagging the Other,
1991, mixed media installation with 4 video monitors, video projection, sound. Presented by the Contemporary Art Society through the Rapid Response Fund, 2020. Courtesy the artist.

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.

 

Keith Piper:  Jet Black Futures Digital Exhibition Guide

 

 

Keith Piper speaks about new work ‘In Search of 4 Horses’, an epic four-screen video installation, based around an exploration of the myth, metaphor and symbolism of the Biblical story of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The work is being presented at The New Art Gallery Walsall for the first time, as part of the artist’s solo exhibition ‘Jet Black Futures’, now open and on display until 24th April 2022. Full artist interview coming soon…

 

Film:  Mark Hinton @blendfilm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Preview

Thursday 13 January, 6-8pm

 

Events 

 

BSL (British Sign Language) Tour

Thursday 24 March, 2pm

Join us for a very special tour of Keith Piper’s exhibition Jet Black Futures lead by Deaf artist Olivier Jamin, offering an insight into the art works from a deaf artist’s perspective.

Please meet at 2pm in the Gallery Foyer.

Free but booking essential.  Please email alex.jolly@walsall.gov.uk

 

In Conversation

(Date to be confirmed)

Join artist Keith Piper for an informal conversation about the exhibition followed by a Q&A.

 

 

 

Biography 

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).