The World After, 2019
The World After: David Blandy, 2019
New Geographies Commission
Focal Point Gallery, Southend-on-Sea
The exhibition will open in Autumn 2019 at Focal Point Gallery, Southend-on-Sea
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. The project is inspired by the post-human environment of Canvey Wick in Essex.
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 are: Maria Anastassiou, David Blandy, Cooking Sections, Ian Giles, Krijn de Koning, Susan Pui San Lok, Studio Morison, Stuart Whipps and Laura Wilson.
New Geographies is a three-year project, funded by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, to create a new map of the East of England based on personal thoughts, reflections and stories of unexplored or overlooked places, rather than on historic or economical centres. The first phase of the project invited members of the public to nominate locations for the map in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk, over a three-month period in the Summer of 2017.
This resulted in over 270 nominations, including the Petrified Forest of Mundon (Essex), the Concrete Pyramid off Great Yarmouth’s coast (Norfolk), an abandoned Tesco supermarket in Chatteris (Cambridgeshire) and Cardington Airship Hangar Site in Bedford (Bedfordshire).
Via an international open call, artists were then invited to submit proposals for artworks inspired by the nominated locations. The final commissions were selected by a panel made up of ECVAN’s partner organisations.
‘The World After’ table-top roleplay game
There was a successful Kickstarter Campaign to help realise an exciting new phase for David Blandy's collaborative New Geographies project with the Essex Gaming Community.
‘The World After’ is a new fantasy table-top roleplay game inspired by the wildlife and landscape of Canvey Wick; an abandoned oil refinery turned nature reserve, now recognised as one of the most bio-diverse sites in the UK. The project imagines a game space where community is created through diversity in a post-human world, with much of the monsters and creatures inspired by wildlife from the site.
To be published alongside the exhibition there will be a full-colour hardcover book for the game packed with rules, setting, art, bestiary and a starting adventure, developed in collaboration with a dedicated group of local artists and gamers.