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embassyHACK

This spring sees the culmination of the Government Art Collection's (GAC) fourth collaboration with postgraduate curating students based in the UK.  A collaboration with the MFA Curating programme at Goldsmiths, University of London, this year the GAC has worked with three students: Francesca Altamura, Tamar Clarke-Brown and Bar Yerushalmi. The students have had the opportunity to investigate different aspects of the Collection, from how works of art function in a cultural diplomatic capacity in government buildings in the UK and abroad; to practical elements related to the care, documentation and maintenance of a national museum collection. Opening from 15 April, embassyHACK is a dynamic multi-media exhibition curated by the students, merging works from the GAC with commissioned and existing works by 10 contemporary artists.

Bishi - Indian Queen

Bishi - Indian Queen

© Bishi & Matthew Hardern

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About embassyHACK
A national embassy is the nerve centre of a country's diplomatic affairs. As a physical extension of the nation-state abroad, it facilitates the work of the state representatives, ambassadors and diplomats, and serves as a crucial mediating place between host and guest nations. Within the embassy lies the 'Ambassador's Room' – the motherboard of diplomatic operations and decision-making. Walking into an Ambassador's Room, one steps into an apparently banal still-life, a space furnished with highly specific and significant objects. The objects found in this room often include an official portrait of the nation's figurehead, a visual reminder of sovereignty; a writing desk, where important decisions are made; and flags of the host and resident countries respectively, signifying respect and partnership. Though these objects may seem unremarkable, they act as double agents, serving crucial functions to represent the state body of power, empowering and reaffirming the sovereign identity.

This exhibition will act as an experiment, recreating and transferring an Ambassador's Room, usually located within an embassy, a 'restricted limited-access' space, into an open gallery context. 'Restricted', and 'limited-access' are fast becoming disallowed terms in this age of networks, connectivity and close-focus on border politics. Arguably, while the digital landscape has intentionally and inadvertently created more fluidity in accessing information, the secure and physical sanctum created within the government building has become more restricted. Ten contemporary London-based artists have been invited to 'hack' this simulacra-room and staged set, constructed from a mixture of works from the GAC and objects of everyday design, in the hopes of altering the status and meaning of the Ambassador's Room and its contents through physical or virtual intervention. The commissioned artworks deviate from the usual decorum to propose new entry points, allowing easy access for a contemporary and mobile audience into a historically closed space.

The participating artists include Louise Ashcroft, Guy Bar Amotz, Bishi & Matthew Hardern, Juan Covelli, Juan Covelli & Neale Willis, Cosmic Latte (Juan Covelli, Andrew Kiddie & Neale Willis), Hannah Honeywill and Jasmine Johnson.

embassyHACK is curated by Francesca Altamura, Tamar Clarke-Brown and Bar Yerushalmi who formed as a collective while attending the MFA Curating programme at Goldsmiths, University of London. Together they co-curated CONFLUX, a group exhibition of University of the Arts London MFA students at the Electrician's Shop, London (2015). The team provides experimental exhibitions, focused on working with emerging artists under the rubrics of expanded and collection-based curating. embassyHACK is curated in collaboration with the Government Art Collection (GAC) and the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS).

The project extends through a satellite website, which features a glitched 3D virtual tour of the installation designed by artist Rob Heppell, and through generative performances and public tours delivered by the curators and artists throughout the project duration.

embassyHACK is supported by the MFA Curating programme at Goldsmiths, University of London and the GAC.






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