Changing The Goalposts; Projects 2016-2023
Changing The Goalposts ( 2023)
1. We are all in this together,2020-2023
“We must act like any wartime government and do whatever it takes… this enemy
is beatable – we know that if as a country we follow the scientific advice we will beat it.
And, however tough the months ahead, we have the resolve and the resources to win the fight.”
Boris Johnson, press conference 17 March 2020
“It is thanks to your effort and sacrifice that the death rate is coming down…
It would be madness now to throw away that achievement by allowing a second spike.”
Boris Johnson, press conference 17 July 2020
"Decisions on lockdowns and social distancing during the early weeks of the pandemic – and the advice that led to them – rank as one of the most important public health failures the United Kingdom has ever experienced”.
Science and Technology Committee and the Health and Social Care Committee
Since 21st March 2020, and like everybody else in the UK, I was taken out of my daily routine. Throughout lockdown I made notes to understand my constant feeling of dread and despair.
The televised UK government press conference broadcast every afternoon in spring 2020 ,stressed that we would get through the pandemic together and beat the virus. We were told the speed of recovery depended entirely on our collective ability to follow government advice. The government claimed to be led by science, but their lack of strategy has made me question their approach.
In the context of the pandemic and its potentially fatal significant consequences for everyone , I felt that to a certain extent the lockdown restrictions were justified; however, how we were controlled and told to follow the regulations was a different matter. I felt threatened by the speeches since they were not genuine and I thought the speakers did not believe what they were saying themselves. “The government would put its arms around every single worker” we were told. Yet they were not prepared to invest resources to control the virus. I did not find it difficult to stay at home under instructions; having lived in a dictatorship for half of my life, I was not as frightened of the authoritarianism of the UK government and the threat of punishment which goes with it than I was of the East German regime.
Rereading my notes in 2022 and evaluating my own reaction to the virus, I feel what I witnessed was the government’s carelessness and their inability to respond in time. There was no balanced perspective; everything seemed to be politicised and full of military jargon; using war related language to make the government seem less accountable for their failures. The daily death toll and the statistics used to count them dominated my thoughts. While the rules were in place, everybody in work had to follow quite strict protocols; one- way systems, masks, risk assessments, 2m social distancing and work bubbles to minimise the chance of infection or transmission .
While these rules were followed religiously by most people, they did not seem to apply to 10 Downing Street, whose officials and political masters were able to travel and mix at numerous events throughout lockdown. Had the government deliberately exaggerated the risks of the disease? Their behaviour in this emergency should surely be seen as a national security risk. What if there were a worse threat to come? How could the government ask people to trust their instruction? What would they do if people failed or refused to comply?
Could it be that it was more about deliberately scaring people, using fear as a tool to
control and influence behaviour, an exploratory fishing exercise to find out how far they can go?
This thought reminds me of my life in the former GDR and echoes the emotions, fears , alarm bells and the feeling of powerlessness I had hoped to escape when the Berlin Wall came down.
For the following pieces I was reflecting on the authoritarian structure and the ethics around using fear to manage people by creating the lockdown rules, manipulating the use of language, and capitalising on the emotional and personal impact of the mixed messaging throughout this crisis.
I have used only publicly available data, my own photographs and my notebooks as a starting point for my exploration.
List of Works:
84 Square Metres, Floating(2020-2023)
84 framed photographs are organised in a grid, the installation size is at least 165cm high and 400 cm wide, image size 15.5cm h X 11.6 cm w, Giclée ink jet print on INNOVA White Matte 285g;
window mounted in 25cmX20cm black frames.
The Promise Of Spring, (2020/2022)
3 Composite of images with text, each 1.20m X 1.20m, c prints
Turning The Tide (2020-2023)
84 mounted photographs organised in a grid,
the installation size is at least 165cm high and 400 cm wide
image size 25cm h X 18.8 cm w, Giclée ink jet print on INNOVA White Matte 285g mounted on foam board
Play Your Part (2020-2021)
Triptych, each panel 1.22m h X 2.44m w,
text hand written with white chalk on MDF blackboards
Take It On The Chin (2020 -2021)
16 wooden grid frames ( each 1.14m h X 1.34 m w) with 384 photographs ( c- prints ) and 152431cm coloured thread
in two rows (2.30 m h X 10.80m w)
Rules Are Rules (2020/2022)
2 Composites of all transcripts of Covid related daily UK government briefings (3rd. March 2020 to 23rd June 2020),
1.60m h X 1.20m w each, c print;
“Never saw a cake”, sound collage by Anna Power
One way Road to Freedom (2021/2022)
2 Composite of images, 1.20m X 1.20m, c prints
2. On Becoming An Immigrant ( 2016-2020)
“…All across the country, people felt legitimised. All across the country, people felt bereaved and shocked. All across the country, people felt righteous. All across the country, people felt sick. All across the country, people felt history at their shoulder. All across the country, people felt history meant nothing. All across the country, people felt like they counted for nothing. All across the country, people had pinned their hopes on it. All across the country, people waved flags in the rain. All across the country, people drew swastika graffiti. All across the country, people threatened other people. All across the country, people told people to leave. All across the country, the media was insane. All across the country, politicians lied. All across the country, politicians fell apart. All across the country, politicians vanished...”
Ali Smith, Autumn
Since the referendum on Europe on the 23rd June 2016 the questions of identity and belonging have become significant. I did not have a vote although I belong to the group most affected by the outcome. I felt my sense of security has been undermined. The government has endorsed the removal of statutory rights common to all Europeans when they live abroad. Suddenly after 24 years of living in England, I have become an immigrant in the country I have chosen to live in since 1992.
The Home Office has extended their hostile environment policy and is ostracising the 3 Million Europeans living lawfully in Great Britain: people are being deported, bank accounts are closed, jobs and mortgages are more difficult to secure. Only with the intervention of media these actions are reversed.
The so called settled status, set up for EU nationals is a further discrimination. Not receiving any evidence on paper has already affected travelling back to the UK, applying for jobs, accommodation or medical treatment. We are stripped of the right of free movement, living under the threat of losing our jobs and possibly deportation. As migrants, we are now constantly made to justify ourselves and are affected by the ever changing rules the government is setting.
For the following pieces I am using notebooks, photographs, sound, documents and government statistics collected since 2015 as starting point for reflecting on my experiences relating to Brexit .
I create images by obscuring the content, reducing them to fundamental shapes and forms until there are only traces of the original remaining.
List of Works:
Project Fear ( 2019)
The Path; The Briefs; The Effects
9 images; (1220X1220mm), c-prints
3 sound collages; political Brexit speeches 2015 to 2017
in collaboration with Anna Power
The Will Of The People (2020)
4 images; (1220X1220mm), c-prints
It Is Just A Place I Stay In (2016-2020)
9 images; image size 780 X1050mm, c prints
The Way It Is ( Summer 2016-Spring 2020)
8 images; (140X140mm),c-prints
The Isle Is Full Of Noise ( 2017/2020)
16 individual pieces organised in a square; size 2200mmX2200mm
16 Vinyl LPs mounted on c-prints ( 50X50cm);
floating in deep black box frames ( 55X55cm);
Record sleeves attached to back of frame
3. Always Under Surveillance, 2018
"Always eyes watching you and the voice enveloping you. Asleep or awake, indoors
or out of doors, in the bath or bed - no escape. Nothing was your own except
the few cubic centimetres in your skull."
George Orwell, 1984
Born in the 1960s, in the German Democratic Republic, my generation was brought up on one side of a divided Germany, without knowing the other. With the fall of The Berlin Wall, my roots, planted in a totalitarian system, became irrelevant.
The culture in which I was raised, and worked as a teacher, has ended up roped off, behind glass, with access by ticketed admission.
The experience of East German totalitarianism has been reduced to sets of statistics, printed on leaflets and handed out to visitors entering museums. Both the victims and the protagonists of this former political system exist now only as data: as mere facts and numbers. The Stasi operated above the law, with no respect for privacy. Besides opening personal mail, they employed a variety of different methods of surveillance, including bugging peoples' bedrooms to blackmail them, as well as conducting home searches and leaving discreet signs of their presence so as to intimidate those being monitored. These surveillance methods were 'open secrets'; the Stasi knew everything about everyone, for the sole purpose of protecting East German 'socialism'.
List of Works
File 1214/87, 2018
image size 68X48cm, Giclée ink jet print on INNOVA White Matte 285g
Beyond Orwell, 2018
image size 68X48cm, Giclée ink jet print on INNOVA White Matte 285g
Archiving Power, 2018
image size 68X48cm,Giclée ink jet print on INNOVA White Matte 285g
up to 20 plates each 70X100cm ,Giclée ink jet print on INNOVA White Matte 285g
Die wunderbaren Jahre, 2018
image size 60X60 cm, Giclée ink jet print on INNOVA White Matte 285g