Kelly Large

24 May 2012

 

Our Name is Legion documents a spectacle of mass participation within a small, rural Lincolnshire town, during which 3000 young people, from local secondary schools were invited to wear high-visibility, fluorescent yellow vests from the moment they left school to the moment they arrived at home. The public spaces of the town were flooded with colour as the students followed their usual routes, flowing along the main thoroughfares, congregating in habitual locations such as the central Market Place and bus stops and then over a period of one hour, gradually disbanded. Those who were excluded from or chose not to take part in the mass assembly, such as the town's people, the artist, the commissioner and the student dissenters remained as visible as those who actively participated in the production of the work. The title of the art work is taken from a biblical parable in which Jesus meets a man possessed by many demons, and when asked their name, they respond: 'Our name is legion, for we are many'. It has been referenced in political and pop culture contexts to suggest the destabilising power of the assembling mass and the power-play between multitude and individual. Used here, it points towards the artwork offering possibilities for acting collectively or alone and the agency these positions afford in different social arenas; it also acknowledges society's uneasy relationship with the colonization of public space by groups of people. Our Name is Legion was commissioned by BEACON and produced during a residency at Sleaford and Kesteven High School.

Kelly Large is an artist based in London and Birmingham. She has a social practice that is both research and production based. Her work is often developed out of a long-term engagement with an organisation or institution involved in culture making - including archives, libraries, schools, museums and universities amongst other places. She uses these situations to explore the conditions that shape cultural production and the artist's role within this. Her current work is pre-occupied with acts of public appearance and the agency attached to 'being visible'; especially how different registers of visibility and public-ness are entangled with the social relations of art practice. The projects she produces unsettle the encounter between artist, participant, audience and artwork. She employs a multi-disciplinary approach to making work and uses a diverse range of forms including events, video and sound broadcasts, performances, texts and objects.

Recent solo exhibitions and projects: The Becoming, commissioned by Inheritance Projects for Milton Keynes gallery, involves a group of Open University BA Art History students, who are geographically dispersed throughout the UK, collectively metamorphosing into an art object on a given night at the end of their studies using the technique of lucid dreaming (2012); We, the Object for Art House Foundation, an on-going sculptural project that aims to connect the gallery with the school on the same site though transforming a class of thirty pupils into an object during the their seven years of primary education (2011); 744 x 744 x 744, Limoncello, London, an exhibition exploring the least used books containing the word 'artist' in the British Library collection (2010); Our Name is Legion for Beacon, a video work and a spectacle of mass participation within a small, rural Lincolnshire town (2009); Me, Myself and I, exploring the function of the artist-in-residence, New Art Gallery, Walsall. Strategic Questions: What is Comprehension? was a publication recording readers' interactions with the British Library catalogue for the 52nd Venice Biennale (2007). Recent group exhibitions include: Acoustic Mirrors, Zabludowicz Collection, London and Among Other Things, Camberwell Space, London (both 2012), Fig. 3: I don't know what to say, David Roberts Art Foundation, London (2011); Book Show, Eastside Projects, Birmingham (2010) and Hollywood Wonderland, Seventeen, London (2009). 
 

Curated and introduced by John Plowman, Beacon

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