Socialist Worker

Lost in a labyrinth of social and political catastrophes

by Molly Docherty
Issue No. 2632

Pink Oyster Mushrooms Detoxifying Milton Friedman, Jane Lawson, 2012

Pink Oyster Mushrooms Detoxifying Milton Friedman, Jane Lawson, 2012


A profound sense of injustice and chaos grips visitors to a new exhibition about identity at Manchester’s Castlefield Gallery, writes Molly Docherty

The Ground Beneath Your Feet is an exhibition that looks at ideas of belonging and identity.

Work from eight different artists and artistic groups, each of which have used their own personal ­backgrounds to inspire their art, explore these themes.

Tulani Hlalo’s piece comprises two films, Fatherland and Motherland. She covers herself in earth in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe and stands in the sea in Tynemouth, England—the places that her parents are from—while she looks at the camera.

There is a clear sense of split identity as she explores both sides of her heritage literally side by side—the screens are placed next to each other.

The idea of national identity is complex and the piece emphasises how immigration and an ever-globalising world have an effect on your ability to understand and express yourself.

Original

Oscar Santillan’s The Intruder consists solely of a small stone, but it could be interpreted as an anti-imperialist message as a comment on things removed from their original settings.

Taken from Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England, when the piece was first exhibited in London in 2015 there was outcry from people demanding it to be returned.

This shows the hypocrisy of being outraged by a small bit of rock being removed while overlooking the amount of natural resources Britain and other world powers have stolen over the years.

The exhibit reveals the way some people attach more importance to a fragment of rock than to human beings being deported. The Museum of Homelessness also contributed a selection of items to the exhibition from their State of the Nation project.

These pieces aim to reveal what lies beneath situations of homelessness and serves to highlight the many problems people experiencing ­homelessness face.

This is at a time when there are record numbers of homeless people in Britain—a 169 percent increase since 2010.

There are a few items on display here but the one which sticks out the most is an Anti-Social Behaviour Order given to a homeless man for begging.

This really emphasises to the viewer how challenging homelessness is. Constant barriers are being put up to deny people the most basic rights while money being used for this could instead be used for putting in place structures of support.

This exhibition shows well the ­subject of identity and the political and structural factors that can shape it. If you are in Manchester you should ­definitely go and see it.

The Ground Beneath Your Feet is at the Castlefield Gallery, 2 Hewitt Street, Manchester, M15 4GB until 3 February.

Admission free


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