The World After: David Blandy
New Geographies Commission
Focal Point Gallery, Southend-on-sea
David Blandy is working with Focal Point Gallery on “The World After”, a project inspired by the nature reserve of Canvey Wick on the south west corner of Canvey Island, Essex. The new work will be shown at the gallery in Autumn 2019.
The World After imagines a world after the Anthropocene, when human influence on the planet has faded, and those who remain have to find new ways to form kin.
Formerly the site of an oil refinery that was only partially built and never operational, Canvey Wick has for the past forty years been reclaimed by nature. Filming the site over a year, Blandy has returned every month to record the changes of the seasons. Using the technology emblematic of the Anthropocene era, the iPhone, the site has been filmed in both macro and slow motion, revealing the hidden ecosystem.
Alongside the film, Blandy saw the potential in roleplay games for generating a space for reimagining interpersonal relations in a time when divisions have become so marked and opposing positions so ossified. Canvey Island has become the site of an entire alternate world, a World After our current conception of humanity. Canvey is the setting for a narrative of renewal and rebirth, of collaboration towards a world of harmony in diversity, both in nature and with each other.
Blandy has worked with gaming communities in Essex to create this future world, devising creatures based on local wildlife and myth, and imagining societies that have evolved separately in vast underground Havens. Together they have used the format of the roleplaying game to create a collective story that imagines new ways of living together.
Inspired by Donna Haraway’s concept of the Cthulucene and Ursula Le Guin’s “Always Coming Home”, the video work, role playing game and installation will combine to link mythmaking with the creation of kinship and geopolitics with interpersonal relationships, seeing potential answers through the collaborative use of play. Blandy hopes that through imagining alternate futures we can see ways to affect change in the present.
New Geographies and the East Contemporary Visual Arts Network (ECVAN) selected artists to create nine major site-responsive visual arts commissions across the East of England. The artists selected were: Maria Anastassiou, David Blandy, Cooking Sections, Ian Giles, Krijn de Koning, Susan Pui San Lok, Studio Morison, Stuart Whipps and Laura Wilson.