Oxford Brookes University and SET Centre present new residencies examining working-class identity in the 21st century

Monday, 13 May 2019

Do The Twist 1

KAHOON I/II: DO THE TWIST is a new exhibition that opened on the 10 May and runs to 30 May at SET in Bemondsey, London. It is presented by Oxford Brookes University and SET Centre and curated by Dr Alexandra Bickley Trott and Roland Fischer-Vousden.

It is the result of residencies curated by Kahoon Projects, which provide a platform for artists to create a discourse about working-class identity in the 21st century through contemporary art. DO THE TWIST is the first round of these collaborative, interdisciplinary residencies, a conversation in art by Shonagh Short and Maria de la O Garrido.

DO THE TWIST refers to those small but symbolic subversive acts that chip away at the system from within, temporarily reconfiguring the terrain. Their work invites the audience to explore the multiple meanings of The Twist: it is at once a dance, an unexpected narrative development, an interruption and a transgression. Finally it is also a revolutionary instruction: “let’s do the twist until we tear the house down”.

During this first residency, Shonagh and Maria have explored their own experiences of the class system.  This takes the form of an immersive and subversive installation that takes a critical look at social class, capital and belonging. It’s a playful invitation to navigate a realm of resistance and explore metaphors of social structures. It draws on Pierre Bourdieu’s idea that such structures “organise and qualify socially as rise or decline, entry (inclusion) or exit (exclusion), bringing together or distancing in relation to a central and valued site”.

Roland Fisher at SET said: “This collaboration between SET and Oxford Brookes offers opportunities to underrepresented artists and foregrounds the issue of working class representation in contemporary arts. The programme includes workshops, performance evenings, screenings and talks, as well as two exhibitions created through the artists’ residencies.

“First Shonagh and Maria, and then later in the summer we’ll have Morgan Tipping and Mitchell Vowels. We are excited to see how the artists' work develops in dialogue with one another, and how their own perspectives inform their engagement with the topic of contemporary social class in all its complexity.”

Kahoon Projects is inspired by the work of painter Robert Colquhoun (1914-1962) and research by Dr Alexandra Bickley Trott (Oxford Brookes University) on contemporary artists from working-class backgrounds. Michael Dean (Turner Prize nominee 2016), and Nick Lee (Lecturer at Royal Holloway University of London, and co-director of the Peckham Pelican) have worked on this first phase in mentoring roles.