Is it just me, or is it you? Attenborough Arts Centre premiers Amartey Golding’s largest solo show to date, offering an honest and self-implicating observation on contemporary British culture.
Multimedia artist Amartey Golding is fast attracting the attention of the international arts scene, becoming renowned for his supercharged, super sleek moving image and photography work. From April until June 2018, Attenborough Arts Centre will premier Is it just me, or is it you? Amartey Golding’s largest solo show to date, with a body of work that has taken him two years to complete.
At a time when otherness, difference, and separation are at the forefront of national conversation, Is it just me, or is it you? looks at the dynamics of victimhood, the cultural conceptions of ‘good’ and ‘evil’, and the point at which they contradict each other. Referencing music videos, anthropology, physical culture, and documentary and reality television, the exhibition uses Amartey’s own personal experiences of race to question what he sees as humanity’s need to separate; a process that runs through identity politics, encompassing gender, class, age, disability, and nationality.
Attenborough Arts Centre will premier two new films as part of Golding’s trilogy of films collectively known as Chainmail (2016-18). The first film of the series Solomon (2016) forms a loose portrait of Golding’s younger brother, the first black British male dancer of The Royal Ballet. In an abandoned building, Solomon’s face and body is clad in intricate chainmail garments weighing in at 65kg. He dances in slow motion to the notoriously homophobic lyrics of Buju Banton’s Boom Bye-Bye for several minutes before the excruciating load collapses him to the ground.
Functioning throughout the exhibition as prop, costume and metaphor, Golding’s chainmail is the product of intense labour, each chain formed by hand.
“I started making [the chainmail] when my godson lost two close friends to knife crime in separate, unrelated incidents within a week. I started looking at chainmail as a protective precaution for the people at risk, with the arduous task of making it becoming a mourning process.” – Amartey Golding.
The material historically symbolises both life and death; by protecting the life of the wearer, it enables them to take the life of another. Chainmail comes to act as double-signifier as a vehicle for exploring brutality and beauty.
Golding is passionate about his work sparking conversations between everyone, and has been developing an innovative audience development project over a number of years. Throughout the first month of the exhibition, visitors will have the opportunity to take part in CRITS, which will be premiered and added as part of the exhibition.
“CRITS came about because I was tired of having my family and friends afraid to comment on my work because they ‘don’t know anything about art,’ despite the fact that only two minutes prior, they had been discussing, in depth, the issues present in my work.” – Amartey Golding
The ‘Gogglebox style’ informal interview process aims to change the inaccessible connotations around discussing art and hopes to encourage a more realistic tone to conversations, similar to the way we enjoy talking about football or film. Golding invites people from all walks of life to discuss ‘high art,’ bringing candid opinions and a variety of perspectives into the conversation.
Is it just me, or is it you? premiers at University of Leicester’s Attenborough Arts Centre in Association with Young Masters. The Young Masters Art Prize operates as a not-for-profit initiative of the Cynthia Corbett Gallery, and is recognised as an exciting, high profile international competition that is highly innovative in its concept – to recognise contemporary art that embraces its past.
Media opportunity: Meet artist Amartey Golding and attend a private tour of Is it just me, or is it you? between 3.30pm – 4.30pm on Friday 13 April 2018 at Attenborough Arts Centre. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to book your place and travel.
A free public celebration will be held Friday 13 April, 5.30pm – 8.30pm. Booking required.
Is it just me, or is it just you? continues Saturday 14 April and closes Sunday 7 June.
Gallery opening times: 10am – 5pm Monday to Saturday, 12pm – 4pm Sunday.
About Attenborough Arts Centre
Attenborough Arts Centre is Leicester’s largest contemporary arts gallery and pioneering cultural hub, offering audiences a chance to see the very best in visual and performing arts. We push the boundaries, expectations and potential of contemporary arts for both our audiences and creators in a wide programme of performance, art exhibitions, courses and workshops, and free activities for children and families.
Funded by both the University of Leicester and Arts Council England, our recent £1.5 million investment has doubled the size of our existing building and with it our audiences have grown to over 109,000 people. Our outstanding access and inclusive work has been recognised, through multiple awards and grants from Arts Council England, British Council, BBC Children in Need, Leicester Shire Promotions and Paul Hamlyn Foundation.
Our work is inspired by world leading filmmaker and lifelong champion of accessible arts, Lord Richard Attenborough, our founding patron who helped to establish our arts centre over 20 years ago. We continue his legacy in striving to support everyone in having access to see and make ground-breaking arts and culture.
About Amartey Golding
Amartey Golding is a multimedia artist whose work explores humankind’s most basic motivators and the many ways they manifest within the individual and wider society. During his childhood, Golding’s family moved house regularly, not only to various contrasting communities in London but also overseas to Ghana, West Africa. These experiences of continuous fluidity and movement have undoubtedly influenced Golding’s artwork. Golding attended Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, and has exhibited in the Middle East and Europe with solo exhibitions in the UK, Dubai,
Germany and Denmark. He won the Granta Decorative and Fine Arts Society Award in 2007. Golding was awarded Arts Council funding to realise his Chainmail series (2016-18). In 2017, Golding was shortlisted for the Young Masters Art Prize. He recently participated in the Independent Film Trust’s 25 x 25 programme which gives 25 under-represented voices unlimited access to the Raindance Film Festival, to help inspire and develop their work.
Images: © Amartey Golding, courtesy, Young Masters / The Cynthia Corbett Gallery