House returns to Brighton to explore ‘technology as territory’

 Mixing politics, digital and cultural identity, this year’s House festival in Brighton presents work around the idea of ‘technology as territory’.

The British Library, Yinka Shonibare MBE, 2014

Source: photo credit Nigel Green

The British Library, Yinka Shonibare MBE, 2014

The visual arts festival’s 2014 edition looks to explore ‘the ideological conflict between network and state’, according to organisers.

Work by Ester Svensson
Work by Ester Svensson

House began life in 2008, founded by Judy Stevens and Chris Lord to coincide with Brighton Festival and open up opportunities for presenting contemporary art in the city.

Work by Leah Gordon
Work by Leah Gordon

Yinka Shonibare has been chosen as this year’s Invited Artist, and has created an installation entitled The British Library, which is being housed at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery.

As with much of Shonibare’s oeuvre, the work concerns itself with ideas of cultural identity and colonialism.

The British Library, Yinka Shonibare MBE, 2014

Source: photo credit Nigel Green

The British Library, Yinka Shonibare MBE, 2014

It takes the form of wooden shelves laden with books, each showing the names of British immigrants Shonibare deems to have ‘made significant contributions to British culture and society’. Among the featured characters are Henry James, T S Eliot, Ignatius Sancho, Hans Holbein, Kazuo Ishiguro, Queen Elizabeth II and Winston Churchill.

The British Library, Yinka Shonibare MBE, 2014

Source: photo credit Nigel Green

The British Library, Yinka Shonibare MBE, 2014

Each of the 10,000 or so tomes has been bound in African Dutch wax batik fabric – a recurring motif throughout Shonibare’s work.

Tobias Revell
Tobias Revell

Many works from the other artists showing at the festival respond to this work, including designer Tobias Revell. He will be showing his moving image work at Lighthouse, presenting a three-part film The Monopoly of Legitimate Use, which explores the relationship between inhabiting a physical space and the idea of digital ‘territories’ of beliefs.

Tobias Revell
Tobias Revell

Over at Fabrica, mass-produced objects have provided inspiration for Swedish artist Jacob Dahlgren. He has created two interactive pieces – Heaven is a Place on Earth, and The Wonderful World of Abstraction, which is created from more than 700 sets of bathroom scales and thousands of metres of ribbon ‘to highlight the pervasive sensuality of low-cost but highly designed objects’, apparently.

Phillip Hall, Patch.
Phillip Hall, Patch.

A rather more comprehensible proposition is Music Box Orchestra – a piece created by students from University of Brighton’s Music and Visual Art programme at Brighton Dome Founders Room, exploring the idea of the music box. A collection of small handle-operated music machines are open for visitors to play with, enabling them to create their own sonic experiments.

House 2014, which is supported by Arts Council England, Brighton & Hove City Council, and Brighton Festival. runs until 25 May at various Brighton locations. . For more information visit http://www.housefestival.org/house-festival-2014

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