with Emily Butler
‘I would rather tease out a politic with satire than use blunt didacticism, that being said there is still a political commitment buried somewhere beneath the satirical layers of navel-gazing doublethink.’
My name is Patrick Goddard and I make a bit of everything. Mostly film, installation and sculpture, but I’ve also got a book of photographs coming out and I’m currently rediscovering painting. The works tend to have a bit of a dark humour to them, sometimes overt comedy, sometimes just subtly satirical or with a sense of the absurd.
What are you showing in The London Open 2022?
I’m showing a sculptural installation called Blue Sky Thinking (2019) which consists of 180 separate sculptures of dead parakeets spread out over the gallery floor like the aftermath of an extinction event. Each sculpture is unique and is made from recycled lead taken from demolished London housing. Seemingly placed randomly on the floor, the installation requirements for the work dictate a distance between the birds that means they become a field, an expanse of mortality that stretches outside of the audience’s usual field of vision. They’re actually not very jpeg friendly as you can never get the whole bunch in shot and if you do, then it’s hard to tell what the objects on the floor are. I hope the work becomes an incident, an extinction event that feels simultaneously catastrophic and cinematic. The viewers have to walk through the detritus of dead birds in order to experience the work, blurring the audience/stage dichotomy. Maybe this makes them feel implicated somehow.
This works brings together many of your wider interests across your practice from the implications of gentrification, to the Anthropocene. The dead parakeets almost embody extinction which may come as a result of human intervention. It’s both tragic and has a dark humour to it. Can you tell us how you use satire in your work?
I do often use satire, but to be honest I don’t think Blue Sky Thinking is particularly satirical. In fact it’s a little bit lonely sitting out at the ‘earnest’ end of my practice. I guess there is an absurdity to the piece and an eco-political criticism in there … When I do use satire, and more broadly comedy and irony, it is as sugar coating
on a bitter pill. It helps the audience laugh along with me, at me and ultimately at themselves. I would rather tease out a politic with satire than use blunt didacticism (*yawn), that being said, there is still a political commitment buried somewhere beneath the satirical layers of navel-gazing doublethink.
This field of corpses has a universal poignancy to it, yet non-native parakeet flocks are also very specific to London. The work is made with lead recycled from London housing. What does it mean to you to be showing the work as part of The London Open?
The work is certainly born out of my interest in urban politics that is very much based for me in London. It’s the first time the work will be exhibited in an institution in London which is great. The genesis of the work, or rather the specific use of parakeets, is that apparently they are particularly prone to flying into windows, with Canary Wharf being a real hotspot of broken-necked birds. The sculptures are modelled from real birds which I scooped up from these spine-severing incidents (though not from Canary Wharf!). The use of lead, recycled from demolished London housing, I hope adds a poetics to the work not just tying extinction events back to urbanism and ‘our’ own lives but examining the very real poison of the material itself.
Work in the exhibition:
Blue Sky Thinking, 2019
180 parts, 20 x 30 x 5 cm (each)
Private Collection, London
Patrick Goddard (b. 1984, London, UK)
2019 PhD Fine Art Practice, Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford
2011 MFA Fine Art, Goldsmiths, University of London 2006 BA Fine Art, Bath Spa University
Selected solo exhibitions: Plagues, Seventeen Gallery, London (2022); Die Biester, E-Werk, Freiburg (2021); Trip to Eclipse, Matt’s Gallery, London (2020); Real Estates, Seventeen Gallery, London, (2019); Ghost House, The Drawing Rooms, London (2018); Go Professional, Seventeen, London (2017); Looking for the Ocean Estate, Almanac Projects, London (2016); The Hellish Cycle, BlackRock/Matt’s Gallery, Gloucestershire (2016); Gone To Croatan, Outpost Gallery, Norwich (2015); Revolver II, Matt’s Gallery, London (2014)
What makes London’s art scene so vibrant? What are the concerns of the next generation of artists? What insight does their work offer in challenging times?
This triennial exhibition showcases a cross-section of the most dynamic artistic talent from across the capital. Established in 1932, this much-celebrated open submission show features 46 London-based artists working across painting, sculpture, moving image, installation and performance.
Since the last London Open in 2018, the city has experienced the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, demonstrations demanding racial and climate justice, and widespread questioning of institutions and their structures.
The London Open 2022 traces the ways in which artists have witnessed and responded to these events with resilience and heart. In times of hardship and crisis, and when exhibitions were cancelled and moved online, these artists experimented with new sites of production and means of dissemination, from the kitchen table to the back garden.
The exhibition is loosely structured as a journey from the personal to the social, moving from individual to collective concerns, the cathartic to the poetic, the political and the environmental.
The artists were selected from over 2,600 entries by a panel of experts including collector Maria Bukhtoyarova, artist Shezad Dawood, curator and art historian Christine Eyene, gallerist Stephan Tanbin Sastrawidjaja, with Whitechapel Gallery curators Emily Butler, lnês Costa and Wells Fray-Smith.
Gallery 1, Downstairs
The relationship between our bodies and the material world kickstarts the exhibition. Rafał Zajko‘s wall-based reliefs appear like hybrid beings, processing the gluten found in wheat and barley flour, leaving us unsure if this is for machine or human consumption.Likewise, Madeleine Pledge‘s stretched fabrics and ceramic boots imply absent bodies and their physical role in manufacturing.
Materiality and belief systems intersect in Candida Powell-Williams’ handmade objects. A unicorn and swing inspired by medieval tapestries are fenced off by a trellis, prompting questions about the divisions between what is mythical and real. Alicia Reyes McNamara‘s paintings feature non-binary, shapeshifting figures drawn from various mythologies, from Meso-America to Ancient Egypt, to consider alternative notions of time and embodiment.
Gallery 9, Upstairs
This gallery features works that delve into the impact of technology, algorithms and quantification on our lives. In his series The Spectre of a World Which Could Be Free 2019, Ben Yau looks at the parallel rise of Neoliberalism and the CIA’s role in sabotaging the socialist government of Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973, bringing together both economic data and declassified documents.
Set in a parallel present reminiscent of sci-fi films such as Blade Runner 2049, The Underlying by Ami Clarke considers the implicit role of capitalism in environmental disaster.
Meanwhile, Rory Cahill and George Mackness offer a walk through a dystopian, corrupted digital landscape of the future, with an immersive soundtrack. They consider: what does a digital wasteland look like, what happens there and what is its afterlife?
Gallery 8, Upstairs
The artworks in this gallery reflect on family, identity and community. Seema Khalique travelled to Bangladesh to photograph two communities of transgender people called hijras. In this behind-the-scenes series, she questions the prejudices they face, revealing the economic hardships they endure alongside the strong network of mentorship and care they create.
Pioneering photographer, curator and writer Sunil Gupta took photographs of his neighbourhood on Walworth Road during lockdown. This work celebrates the increased relevance of our localities during the pandemic, as well as reflecting on the processes involved in created photographic images.
On three vintage TV monitors, Hussina Raja‘s short narrative films look at the subject of migration to the UK from post-Partition India, tracing the continued experiences of displacement and exploring nuanced notions of identity.
The works in the last part of the show focus on our relationship to and impact on the environment. In Agrilogistics (2022), Gerard Ortin Castellvi films in an automated greenhouse, in which the growth of tomatoes, tulips and chrysanthemums is controlled by cameras and sensors, in order to question the future of food production.
Having spent lockdown excavating her back garden, Maria Roy Deulofeu meticulously records each layer of soil like an archaeologist, collecting artefacts and ecofacts, before assembling a kiln to fire hand-thrown urns with the different layers of clay. The process is recorded in a video shown alongside the objects. Finally, a flock of parakeets cast in lead are scattered on the ground in Patrick Goddard‘s Blue Sky Thinking (2019).The parakeet exemplifies a non-native species increasingly common in London parks and hints at a mass extinction event, highlighting mankind’s role in the impending climate disaster.
See the full list of works here.
An illustrated catalogue is available to purchase from the bookshop.
Artists have generously made limited editions to coincide with the exhibition to support the Gallery’s education programme.