MK Gallery, United Kingdom.
Topos is a new site-responsive A/V performance commission.
It is the product of three years work spent in-and-around Milton Keynes as part of artist collective Tracing the Pathway’s project Groundwork. During this time James has considered how site-specific work has become increasingly assimilated into the capitalist logic of regeneration and value creation; and on a planet where the majority of the surface is mapped and apped, the concept of ‘site’ itself has become ever more problematic.
Drawing on the writer and academic Robin Mackey’s call to replace the question “how do I (qua artist) respond to this site” with the question “what is the site (qua nested material complex) responding to - what are the traumas that haunt it and drive it and how do they address me?” (Mackay, 2015), the work is both an explication of the critical concept site-specificity and an exploration on how “local and contingent phenomena focalise and express the universal - with the latter understood not as universal ratio or Hegelian Geist, but as a universal history of material contingency.” (ibid.)
Topos is therefore presented as a non-linear A/V triptych that explores utopian, dystopian and heterotopian visions of Milton Keynes through past, present and futures, juxtaposed with recent global events and the philosophical and political movement accelerationism. It also features work developed in 2015 with the performance-maker, writer and ambulatory researcher, Phil Smith. It is a development of James’ fascination with how place lives in harmony and disharmony with space.
*This work has been commissioned by Tracing The Pathway as part of their project Groundwork. Groundwork has been generously supported with funding from Arts Council England, Milton Keynes Community Foundation, Pedalling Culture, Milton Keynes Arts Centre and Sharing Culture: MK. Topos has been realised with additional support from MK Gallery and MK College.