Grand Union‘s newest group show will be A Small Hiccup, opening on 24 May and running until 29 June. Including eight new commissions reflecting on language, rhetoric and speech, with performance, video, sculpture and digital media, the show explores communication through a variety of forms. Curated by George Vasey, the exhibition takes inspiration from the low-budget Canadian horror film Pontypool, in which certain words of the English language are infected. To speak them risks being turned into a zombie, the only antidote to speak bad French. All of the new works respond to the idea of compromised speech, asking what is free in free speech and if is it always good to talk.
Leah Lovett presents a performance work, inspired by the “human microphone” made famous by the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011. Due to the lack of electrical amplification, the speakers’ words were repeated by the listening crowd to allow the people at the back to hear. Meanwhile, Spoliers, by Jeremy Hutchison, reflects on the thousands of products listed on Ebay with typos, instantly making their economic potential plummet: the “spolier” is not searched for and therefore can never be found.
Erica Scourti exhibits an online work looking at the relationship between imagery and language on the internet, accompanied by the work Unsent Letters in the gallery. Simon Senn’s video-based competition asks five youth people in Pakistan to recount their dreams and ambitions, the winners then awarded a cash prize. While, Charlie Woolley covers the windows of Grand Union in printed vinyl inspired by political aesthetics and Siôn Parkinson unveils a new series of plaster sculptures and a performance work. Finally, Fay Nicolson & Oliver Smith create a series of posters, as does Holly Pester, in residence at Grand Union during June, who also composed a series of new poetry responding to the curator’s research.
Birmingham-based duo An Endless Supply has also designed a free newspaper, which features the artists’ reflections on miscommunication, asking if mistranslation can actually be a productive situation for all.
A Small Hiccup, 24 May – 29 June, Grand Union,
Grand Union, 19 Minerva Works, Fazeley Street, Birmingham, B5 5RS
1. Jeremy Hutchison ŒSpolier¹ (2013), Photograph taken from Ebay.