This exhibition brought together two major recent works by London-based conceptual artist Doug Fishbone that extend his examination of consumer culture, mass media and the relativity of perception. Elmina and Untitled (Hypno Project) both question the way information is processed and presented in the contemporary visual landscape, and undermine the relationship between audience and content in different ways.
Elmina, a new feature-length melodrama, was shot in Ghana with a cast of Ghanaian celebrities, and offers an unlikely fusion of the contemporary art world and the West African popular film industry. What allows it to cross over is the presence of Fishbone, a white man from New York, in the lead of an otherwise completely African film – a part that would normally be played by a black West African actor. No reference is made to this oddity of casting, which quietly overturns conventions of race and representation in film, and offers a new perspective on globalization, celebrity, and the possibility of a shared visual language. Elmina is set for mass-market release in Africa and African immigrant communities later in the year.
In Untitled (Hypno Project), twelve protagonists are filmed as they watch a short video under the influence of hypnosis, each having been given specific suggestions instructing them to respond in certain ways at different visual and aural cues. The project opens a window onto an alternate zone of consciousness and, as with Elmina, presents the possibility that a given work can operate on a number of different levels simultaneously – depending on who views it and in what context.
As part of the exhibition Fishbone delivered a live performance lecture at The Mining Institute, Newcastle upon Tyne on 23 November 2012. A new text about Fishbone’s work by JJ Charlesworth is available as a pdf download and limited edition print by Doug Fishbone created for the exhibition is also available from our online store.