Larry Achiampong & David Blandy

Larry Achiampong (b. 1984) & David Blandy (b. 1976) have been making work collaboratively since 2013. Starting in 2014 they produced a series of films and installations under the title Finding Fanon, referring to the work of Frantz Fanon (1925-1961) the politically radical humanist whose practice dealt with the psychopathology of colonisation and the social and cultural consequences of decolonisation. In the films, the two artists negotiate Fanon’s ideas, examining the politics of race, racism and the post-colonial, and how these societal issues affect their own relationship.

The series of films titled FF Gaiden are works in which Achiampong & Blandy have repurposed the virtual space of the video game Grand Theft Auto 5 to generate landscapes through which digital avatars make their journeys. The series is made in collaboration with external contributors, groups with whom the artists developed written scripts, synthetic voiceovers and character avatars to generate these stories of identity and migration, cultural history and social change. The groups include paperless migrants at Mennisker i Limbo (People in Limbo), in Oslo; veterans in prison at HMP Altcourse, Liverpool and Nottingham’s Women’s Cultural Exchange. The word ‘gaiden’ is Japanese for a ‘side story’ and in the digital gaming world is used to describe a spin-off of an existing gameworld, in this case the digital avatars used in Finding Fanon.

Larry Achiampong & David Blandy’s work has been exhibited at Tate Modern, London; The Baltic, Gateshead; Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefied; Fact, Liverpool; BFI London Film Festival, London; Transmediale Festival, Berlin, Germany & Fort Worth Contemporary Arts, Texas, USA. They were shortlisted for the Film London Jarman award 2018.

 

Larry Achiampong & David Blandy CV

 

Links to selected press

Frieze Magazine
Vice.com
Art Monthly
Rhizome
The Guardian 
Art Review
Art Agenda
Art Agenda ii
BBC4 Front Row
BBC News

 

Larry Achiampong & David Blandy, A Terrible Fiction, 2019
4K UHD colour video with sound
11 minutes 51 seconds
Edition of 3 + 2AP

A Terrible Fiction by Larry Achiampong and David Blandy forms the first part of an ambitious new body of works by the artists, exploring race and identity in an age of avatars, video games, and DNA Ancestry testing. Concepts of race and ethnicity in science over the last century have been split between two main perspectives. One, rooted in the eugenics movement, treats racial and ethnic categories as biological classifications. The other, stemming from social science, regards race and ethnicity primarily as cultural and historical constructs with very little biological significance. Even after the human genome was decoded in 2003, which scientists believe proved there was no biological basis for race, the arguments continue to rage. Genetic Automata forms the first part of an ambitious new body of film-based works by the artists that attempt to address this complex history of classification and segregation.

 

Larry Achiampong & David Blandy, The Wall And The Incongruous, 2018
4K UHD two channel video with sound
8 minutes 55 seconds
Edition of 3 + 2AP

The Wall and The Incongruous uses Hadrian’s Wall as a device to examine the idea of the border. The work is comprised of a two-channel video, one screen featuring drone footage of the landscape and battlements of the wall, the other follows a virtual avatar of a person of colour walking through a frozen, digital landscape. These images are underscored by a script that relates a High Fantasy fable of a city-state that attempted to isolate itself from the rest of the world and as a result, starved and failed. This story is intertwined with fragments of real histories, weaving together accounts of migration ranging from the underground railroad, to the Moorish battalions on Hadrian’s wall, and the history of repression of the Northern region, from Romans, to William the Conqueror’s Harrying of the North to the Miners’ strike.

Having stood for two millennia, Hadrian’s Wall marked a psychological and physical boundary between a conception of ordered culture and an alternative lifestyle outside of the Roman empire. Recent politics has seen attempts to raise walls and strengthen borders around nation states and a persecution of the movement of undocumented people at a time when international corporations and high-net-worth individuals are able to circumvent the nation state entirely. This timely work melds sections of personal testimony with a fantasy-based allegory, combining fact and fiction to form a warning against isolationist ideology.

Larry Achiampong & David Blandy, The Wall And The Incongruous, 2018
4K UHD two channel video with sound
8 minutes 55 seconds

Installation view at Seventeen, London

Larry Achiampong & David Blandy, Finding Fanon Part Three, 2016
Ultra HD colour video, stereo sound
15 minutes

Finding Fanon Part Three: is a story based on the collaboration of Sartre and Fanon and their recognition of the problems and pain caused by the economically and politically powerful on the less privileged, particularly, of the colonised. It is a meditative, naturalist cinematic portrayal on the fragility of friendships and brings the story of Fanon and Sartre’s collaboration to life; it is a minimalist story of friendship, loss and alienation in the current era.

The two characters in tweed suits, are on a journey on foot with their children. As the hours progress and the landscape evolves, the two families move through a range of subtle emotions, enacting a pilgrimage of mutual confusion, sudden insight and recurring intimations of a larger battle. When they arrive at their final destination, a shelter made deep in the woods, they must either confront the divergent paths they have taken or somehow transcend their growing tensions in an act of forgiveness and forging a new way towards a more equal future.

Larry Achiampong & David Blandy, Finding Fanon Part Three, 2016
Ultra HD colour video, stereo sound
15 minutes
Edition of 3 + 2AP

Installation view at Tate Modern, London

Larry Achiampong & David Blandy, Finding Fanon Part Three, 2016
Ultra HD colour video, stereo sound
15 minutes

Installation view at Copperfield, London

Larry Achiampong & David Blandy, FF Gaiden: Delete, 2016
Ultra HD colour video, stereo sound
33 minutes 09 seconds

On a residency at Praksis in Oslo, Norway, held in partnership with PNEK, Atelier Nord, and Notam, the artists David Blandy & Larry Achiampong worked on the theme of NEW TECHNOLOGY AND THE POST-HUMAN bringing together a multidisciplinary community of international and Oslo based participants at varying career stages to explore and discuss issues of identity in contemporary culture.

During their time in Oslo David Blandy and Larry Achiampong worked with paperless migrants to the city to produce a film using the computer game Grand Theft Auto V. The Oslo participants, from the organisation Mennisker i Limbo (People in Limbo), engaged with huge generosity in discussions of sometimes extreme and traumatic personal experience.

On the basis of these discussions, the artists worked with individual group members to develop written scripts, synthetic voiceovers and character avatars for a new film: Finding Fanon Gaiden: Delete, a complex tapestry of stories of identity and migration, cultural history and social change.

 

Larry Achiampong & David Blandy, Finding Fanon Part Two, 2015
Ultra HD colour video, stereo sound
9 minutes 13 seconds
Edition of 3 + 2AP

Finding Fanon Two collides art-house cinema with digital culture’s Machinima, resulting in a work that explores the post-colonial condition from inside a simulated environment – the Grand Theft Auto 5 in-game video editor. This video work combines several stories, including how the artists’ familial histories relate to colonial history, an examination of how their relationship is formed through the virtual space, and thoughts on the implications of the post-human condition.

 

Larry Achiampong and David Blandy, FF Gaiden ESCAPE, 2017
Installation view at ‘Untitled: Art On The Conditions Of Our Time’, New Art Exchange, Nottingham

FF Gaiden is a series of works, where Achiampong & Blandy have used the virtual space of the video game Grand Theft Auto 5 to make work in collaboration with various groups such as paperless migrants at Mennisker i Limbo (People in Limbo), in Oslo; Tyneside Cinema’s young digital group, The Factory and with a group of veterans in prison and family members at HMP Altcourse in Liverpool. The word ‘gaiden’ is Japanese for a ‘side story’, and in the digital gaming world is used to describe a spin-off of an existing gameworld.

Larry Achiampong & David Blandy, FF Gaiden: Black Death, 2017
Ultra HD colour video with sound
9 minutes

“FF Gaiden: Black Death continues Larry Achiampong and David Blandy’s remarkable body of work exploring the psycho-pathologies of racism as postulated by Frantz Fanon. Enlisting the voice of Kamile Ofoeme, the short film, created within the video game Grand Theft Auto V, is perhaps the most lyrically arresting, aggrieved and provocative work in their ‘Finding Fanon’ series (2015–ongoing). ‘Thatcher weren’t the first to bring the bad stuff, massacres and madness,’ Ofoeme intones, whilst calling out an increasingly hostile UK Home Office whose draconian policies continue to reiterate a long history of racial discrimination and hypocrisy.” Jamie Sutcliffe, Frieze Magazine 2017