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 develping 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.