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Silent Coup shows montage of power

A new photomontage exhibition by Peter Kennard exposes the results of ‘profit at all costs’
Issue 2859
An installation at the Silent Coup exhibition

An installation at the Silent Coup exhibition (Picture: Peter Kennard)

Silent Coup is a stunning exhibition unveiling new work by artist Peter Kennard. It shares themes with a recent book of the same name by investigative journalists Claire Provost and Matt Kennard. The project marks the father and son duo’s first creative collaboration.

Peter Kennard is a pioneer of photomontage. He is known for his anti-war activism and involvement in major protest movements including the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

Here he takes up the seemingly-unstoppable rise of multinationals and the political interference of super-corporations. He shows how they seek to dictate how resources are allocated, territories are governed, and how justice is defined.

Peter Kennard said, “This new work is concerned with finding ways to show the rise of corporate power.

“I want to reveal how it encroaches into every pore of our being as well as the Earth itself. The work tries to rip through the veil of share price listings and corporate logos by showing the results of profit at all costs—poverty, war, state violence, climate catastrophe.”

The section called Double Exposure meshes market data and flashing images to present a time-based photomontage that uncovers corporate profit normally hidden from sight.

As visitors enter the space, they meet two long lines of printed newspapers that recount the day’s share prices. A montage of weaponry, climate breakdown and war victims is projected for a few seconds before moving on to another paper.

Boardroom is a series of anonymous faces mounted on large-scale wooden boards salvaged from the east London streets around Kennard’s studio. Their mouths are replaced by projected logos of major corporations—Shell, BP, BAE Systems—that appear as gags stifling the voices of democracy.

Matt Kennard said, “This is the biggest story of our time.

“The modern corporate form was invented in England in the 16th Century. Since then it has cannibalised the state that created it—and gone global.

“The visual form in our society has been colonised by the corporate public relations industry and advertising.

“What we see has been hijacked by profit-friendly imagery intended to maintain the ‘buying mood’. My Dad’s work claims back the form— and shows us how we’ve been lied to and deceived.”

  • Silent Coup runs until 1 July, Tuesday to Sunday, 10am-6pm, at a/political, The Bacon Factory, 6 Stannary Street, London SE11 4AA. Free.
  • John Pilger discusses the Silent Coup book and exhibition with Peter and Matt Kennard, Sat 17 June, 5pm-7pm at a/political. Register at Tickets from £6.13

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