BREADROCK, PEER 2018
Exhibition at PEER 22nd Feb – 14th April 2018, in collaboration with Rosalind Fowler
BREADROCK is a film and sculptural installation for PEER in collaboration with artist and filmmaker Rosalind Fowler. Reflecting on our ten-year collaboration with the diverse communities of Wenlock Barn Estate in Hackney, East London.
Breadrock is a message of mystic law summoned collectively between people and soil when given a place to dream.
The installation of totems as frequencies presents an alchemy of cultural history, using sculptural processes that meld together and take inspiration from the rituals and artifacts of the Estate’s Bangladeshi, European, Kurdish, Serbian, Turkish, Ugandan and West Indian communities.
Each frequency summons individual and collective personality – celebrating the eclectic wisdom exchanged between residents as the film’s performers and agents of their own culture. Deliberately diverse in materiality, the forms develop an alternative history of the housing estate in honor of its multicultural potential.
The assemblages reference a contemporary assortment of encounters that took place on the estate during our ten-year involvement, including our most recent collaboration with Rosalind Fowler, referencing folk culture, labour and storytelling. Frequency 5, for example, is made from a re-fashioned basket carried time and time again through the estate, bringing with it surprising encounters. Frequency 1, a totem to ‘grandmother bread’, replicates the many loaves made by estate grandmothers and the vessels passed within scenes of the film. Frequency 6, constructed from parts of Ghanaian wedding costumes, stands opposite frequency 12 that carries wheat grown on the Estate during a project 2009. At the base of Frequency 3 is a small rock that once belonged to the conductor seen in the film, synchronizing the geological formation of a Scottish rock with the musical compositions of Johann Sebastian Bach.
Several forms have been refashioned from the metro newspaper collected from the estate’s nearest tube station, including a red pregnant harvest figure, and a hybrid donkey-cow as a talismanic object responding to a resident’s childhood memory from Jamaica. Others incorporate a drum used to summon a ceremony and felt pieces in homage to the wool once spun and stitched in the middle of the estate.
BREADROCK, with its echoes of bedrock also gestures an act, which has been bringing the community together for the last decade, that of bread-making. This object now sits on a hand sown purple jacket worn in the film and made in response to one of the more reserved resident’s inner dreams of wearing a purple velvet suit whilst performing an eclectic DJ’s set.
In the background sits the dissected fragment of a painting appearing like a clock holding time, and a waxed and smudged roll in the process of unrolling and re-rolling, referencing the tactile processes of working with analogue film, as seen too in the last act of the film in which two residents convey the imaginary film between them.
Throughout the installation, fragments of a large symbolic umbilical cord used by a Bengali woman in the film now wrap around BREADROCK and other objects, as if a cosmic glue capable of connecting all forms.
The installation harks back to the days when things that happened between people – the materials and objects that were exchanged and celebrated - were held afterwards by the community in reverence, to mark the significance and sacred weight of an event. Through their mystical presence, hinting at potential futures and a rediscovery of our shared humanity.
In this respect the installation exists as a celebration of an authentic modern-day community. The sculptural assemblage resonates with the mythology conjured within the film, and echoes the many performative processes that took place on the estate over 10 years. The work appears in stark contrast to the modes of regeneration that seek to make everything look the same. It instead bears testament to a richness, authenticity, and inter-connectedness that are drawn from under the surface when artists work in social practice.
“Working on a hyper-local level, Fourthland and Fowler’s project explores what living with a global perspective feels like: how it alters our personal imaginary, our habits, our modes of living together; bringing together different symbolic and ritual registers in a way that suggests the possibility of a real advance in the way society operates”.
Caroline Douglas Contemporary Art society Friday Dispatch
“I was greatly impressed by BREADROCK at PEER. Fourthland carried out a rich and remarkable long term collaboration with the culturally diverse communities of the Wenlock
Barn estate and the resulting exhibition is testament to this. Both the film and the sculptural installation are also impressively original artworks in their own right. The many strands of shared making, knowledge and ritualistic activities which unfolded over this ten year period resulted in the creation of powerful visceral objects in a multitude of media which have now been transformed into magical pieces of sculpture. Similarly, the 16mm film is much more than a document of an exceptional community project. It pays tribute to a place and its people with a poetic richness and texture that is utterly captivating and one of a kind.” – Louisa Buck
Read more about the film here
Read Art Monthly review here