Amartey Golding will preview his latest work, Is it just me or is it you?, at Jack House Gallery on Saturday (February 24).
Visitors to the Portsmouth gallery will get a privileged first look at the exciting project.
The preview will take place from 6pm to 8.30pm and will include drinks and a chance to meet the artist.
It will give an insight into a hugely ambitious project which started with Golding’s first film, Chainmail.
Chainmail premiered at Jack House Gallery in 2016 and received great acclaim at the 2017 London Art Fair.
Archetypes and ceremonies
“‘At a time when legacies of exploitation such as race, gender and class are at the forefront of national conversation, Is it just me, or is it you? offers an honest and self implicating observation,” said Golding.
“Using an all-black male cast and my own experience of being black British as an entry point to the subject, Is it just me, or is it you? creates a fictional world of archetypes and ceremonies, where we can observe and scrutinise the drivers that may have led us to this point.”
The ambitious body of work has taken Golding two years to complete and is his largest solo show to date.
It includes three films, a photographic series and handmade chainmail weighing almost half a tonne.
Is it just me, or is it you? also features CRITS – a documentary project using a Gogglebox-style interview process. Golding says this has resulted in candid and ‘at times hilarious’ analysis from those closet to him and strangers.
The exhibition is centred around the idea of ‘the other’. It follows the participants of the fictional chainmail culture Golding crated in 2015.
“Referencing music videos, anthropology, human zoos, documentaries and reality TV, the show questions our ideas of self and the pathological processes we use to distance ourselves ideologically from the people and things around us,” he said.
“The show looks at the dynamics of victimhood, the cultural conceptions of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ and more importantly the point at which they contradict each other and how those contradictions manifest themselves in our contemporary human experience.
“I have used my family and friends as the subjects, taking most of the photos in my bedroom, making myself both the voyeur and the subject.”
All the characters throughout the exhibition are clad in intricate chainmail garments.
Golding started making them when his godson lost two close friends to knife crime in unrelated incidents within a week.
“I started looking at chainmail as a protective precaution for the people at risk and the arduous task of making it became a mourning process,” he said.
“The chainmail’s contradictory symbolism and materiality lent itself perfectly to the themes in my work.
“The chainmail, in its original capacity, symbolises both life and death; by saving the life of the wearer, it enables them to take the life of another.
“The symbolism of the material became a vehicle for exploring the most brutal and beautiful of human traits, resulting in the development of an entire culture centred around it.
“This reference to survival, our primal drivers and the way they are unavoidable in everything we do is at the centre of the show and the chainmail acts as a constant reminder of this throughout.
“In Is it just me, or is it you?, like all of my work, I use myself as an example highlighting my own fallibility and vulnerability in exploring everyone’s inability to avoid blame or receive apology.”
Throughout the first month, visitors can put themselves forward to take part in CRITS. The documentary will then be premiered and added as part of the exhibition for the rest of the show.
Golding hopes it will change the inaccessibility of discussing art and encourage a more realistic tone.
He wants it to be similar to the way we talk about ‘football or a film’. Golding invites people from all walks of life to discuss ‘high art’, bringing their candid opinions and variety of perspectives.
“CRITS came about because I was tired of having my family and friends afraid to comment on my work because they ‘don’t know anything about art’, despite the fact that only two minutes prior, they had been discussing, in depth, the issues present in my work,” he said.
“The aim of CRITS is to display the relevance everyone’s personal experiences play in the arts as a whole, and how, most of the time, the people who feel they are the least qualified to talk on art tend to bring the most insight to it.”
Amartey Golding will preview Is it just me, or is it you? at Jack House Gallery, Portsmouth, from 6pm to 8.30pm on Saturday, February 24.
Spectrum Photographic sponsored the project and Golding has also received Arts Council funding.
For more information on the exhibition visit the Jack House Gallery website.