Sheffield Fringe

Concrete Utopia

Sunday 12 June 2016, 4:00pm

Bloc Projects
71 Eyre Lane
Sheffield S1 4RB

Concrete Utopia
Maud Haya-Baviera, Muse (Germany/UK 2015), video still


‘Hope’ may not be a word normally ‘sanctified’ in critical expressions about art. It can, however, stand for affirmative action: concrete and material rather than abstracted and religiously intonated. Swimming against the cold stream of purely functional market calculations, the artists making up this programme are unified in sometimes earnest, sometimes mischievous, sometimes confrontational artistic actions, sharing a concrete hope to carry things forward together into a collective future. While Europe is trying to work out how to live and work together, its organization framed by political rhetoric of exclusion, punctuated by extremist acts of violence, these films are concerned with the impact of place and politics on living.

The social and artistic actions expressed here communally extend what the Totaller collective refer to as “the logics of collage and bricolage”. Relating to community, to landscape and to artistic studio practice, the politics of making emerges from all angles as an intervention into life at grassroots level. Humorous first-world observations about not having had enough coffee and a Macbook not being covered for accidental damage en route to an artists’ residency contrast with a fantastically furious depiction of global politics and world leaders that have risen and fallen; animated anecdotes muse on Eisenstein’s love life. A walk through familiar urban streets becomes a paean to the impossibility of completely coming together; the countryside emerges as a menacing place that nonetheless offers the possibility to structure things without the predetermined boundaries that urban centres are limited by. From the local to the global, the Bloc Studios-based artists and affiliates presented in this programme all in one way or another investigate ‘making’, both of art and of communities. – Minou Norouzi

Selected by Minou Norouzi, filmmaker, programmer, and doctoral candidate at Goldsmiths, University of London.


Walk With A Cart Through Upperthorpe

Walk With A Cart Through Upperthorpe | Ian Nesbitt | UK 2016 | HD | 40 min

Walk With A Cart Through Upperthorpe was made collaboratively with local residents, support agencies, service providers, a housing association, and artist, Ian Nesbitt, commissioned by the Social Housing Arts Network.The core group that informed the making of the film included artists, community activists, volunteers, and first-time filmmakers. The film is constructed around footage of the Upperthorpe area, recorded by a custom build ‘videocart’. Walking around with the cart enabled conversations and spontaneous contributions.

The Outsider

The Outsider | Liz von Graevenitz | UK 2014 | HD | 3 min 21s

The Outsider is a short film about my research into the Roma community living in Sheffield. It hints at the struggles of trying to break into a community that is not trusting of strangers. Persecuted and ostracised from mainstream society for generations, the Roma have become isolated and protective about whom they let in. (Grant funded by Yorkshire Artspace)

A Summer Voyage

A Summer Voyage | Alistair Macdonald | UK 2015 | HD | 16 min 51s

In 1695, Martin Martin, natural philosopher and tutor to the Chief of the Clan MacLeod toured the Western Islands of Scotland gathering data at the request of the Royal Society. The resulting Description of the West Islands of Scotland, published in 1703, contained detailed information about the history and geography of the islands, their flora and fauna, information on the customs of the inhabitants, their diseases, diets and laws, and an account of second sight. In 2015, filmmaker Alistair Innes Macdonald travelled to the Isle of Rum with a copy of Martin’s Description to update his findings.

Little Things

Little Things | Michael Day | UK 2013 | HD | 2 min 10s

On a car journey across the Lofoten archipelago in Norway, a conversation takes place between the passengers. While the view from the car window reveals vistas of sublime natural beauty at every turn, the conversation turns to an insurance policy that refused to pay out for a laptop that had been damaged while travelling. An uneasy contrast emerges between the spectacular image of the arctic landscape and the intricacies of the insurance claim process. The mundane resignation of the passengers is at odds with their awe-inspiring surroundings.


Powwow | Richard Bartle | UK 2007 | Digital Video | 6 min 4s

Powwow was created for the Sheffield Pavilion at the 2009 Istanbul Biennial. The work is assembled from 196 cells, each one representing a different nation state. It catalogues, in chronological order, the world leaders of the entire period of George Bush Jr.’s term in office, using an acrylic transferring process overlaying Bush’s image. The result is a build-up, reflecting the transient nature of political power. Powwowreferences the North American Indian word, describing a meeting between great warriors – often used to describe peace talks. The soundtrack is the preamble to the declaration of human rights read out simultaneously in the seven primary languages of the United Nations.


Muse | Maud Haya-Baviera | Germany/UK 2015 | HD | 2 min 20s

Muse is a short animation loosely based on the romantic life of Albert Einstein. Forced to be idle while on a trip in Germany, Haya-Baviera collected images found in flea markets. These images became Muse, a surrealist video animation circling around romantic anecdotes set in the aftermath of World War II. “I always start a piece of work with something I’ve heard, read or written, therefore narration plays a pivotal role. Misunderstanding and illusion is also extremely important, infiltrating my work and finding opposition to a stable, rational, and intelligible world.” M.H-B.

Totaller Keeps Swinging

Totaller Keeps Swinging | Lesley Guy, Lea Torp Nielsen, Dale Holmes | 2014 | Digital Video | 3 min 25s

Created from a collision of garbages, this swinging embryonic matter of zygotic fusion holds in its surfaces the promise of future collective action. The image presented here is of the birth of Totaller. Totaller is an artist collective with a shared belief of aesthetics as a destructive, progressively utopian, and totalising force. The works that Totallermake collide distinct aesthetic sensibilities and extend the logics of collage and bricolage.