Screening and In-Conversation with Larry Achiampong, David Blandy and John Eng Kiet Bloomfield
3 February 2021, 6–7.15pm
In collaboration with Art Exchange, we presented A Lament for Power: Screening and In-Conversation with artists Larry Achiampong and David Blandy, and John Eng Kiet Bloomfield, Curator / Acting Head of Programme at Wysing.
The screening and in-conversation were streamed live on this page at 6pm 3rd February 2021. The in-conversation is available to watch back on this page.
The event began with a screening of A Lament for Power, the outcome of a nine-month residency by artists Larry Achiampong and David Blandy at the University of Essex, exhibited at Art Exchange in 2020. This ambitious new film explores the ethics of scientific discovery and the complex relationship between science, politics and race in our age of avatars, video gaming and DNA Ancestry testing. This was followed by an in-conversation between the artists and John Eng Kiet Bloomfield, with an opportunity for questions from the audience.
This event was captioned. Please get in touch with us to let us know if there is something you need to be able to participate in this event, by emailing Elizabeth Brown on firstname.lastname@example.org
A Lament for Power investigates how science can be used to understand the world – but also how it is exploited for economic and political ends. At its nucleus is Henrietta Lacks (1920–1951), a black American known to scientists as ‘HeLa’, the name given to the cells that were taken from her body without her consent. Because of their ability to endlessly replicate and become ‘immortal cells’, Lack’s cells have been used in numerous discoveries including mapping the human genome, cures for cancer and the development of Polio and HIV vaccines. However, her contribution remained unknown for decades, reminding us of whose voices are erased from society’s narratives and in doing so, whose interests are served.
Weaving together images from sources that include the gaming world’s Resident Evil 5, Larry Achiampong and David Blandy’s new commission takes the form of a video installation that creates a space to make visible the sometimes murky world of scientific research as they probe at the economic and racial divides that underpin our social structures.
Larry Achiampong and David Blandy’s new work is informed by the research of Dr Antonio Marco from the School of Life Sciences, University of Essex, and Dr Santiago Oliveros previously from Department of Economics at the University of Essex, now at the University of Bristol.
Larry Achiampong (b. 1984, UK) is a Jarman Award nominated artist (2018). He completed a BA in Mixed Media Fine Art at University of Westminster in 2005 and an MA in Sculpture at The Slade School of Fine Art in 2008. He lives and works in Essex, and has been a tutor on the Photography MA programme at Royal College of Art since 2016. Achiampong currently serves on the Board of Trustees at Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts) and is represented by C Ø P P E R F I E L D.
David Blandy (b. 1976) lives and works in Brighton and London. He studied at Chelsea College of Art and The Slade School of Art. Blandy has established his terrain through a series of investigations into the multiple cultural forces that inform and influence him, ranging from his love of hip hop and soul, to computer and role playing games, geopolitical events and climate cataclysm. His works move between performance, video and installation.
Image credit: Larry Achiampong and David Blandy, A Lament for Power (still), 2020.