Thursday, 18 December 2014

2014 artworks

Progress….
Progress... (2013-2014)

A Privatised Implosion
A Privatised Implosion (908x1280)
Hyper-Malaise
hyper_mailaise__2014__by_johnledger 
…Coils Tightening
 ...Coils Tightening (2014) (1280x1034)


Flyer for Just The Noise… exhibition
Just The Noise... (1425x2000) (730x1024) 

Untitled

untitled (2014)

Flyer for Five Years Drowning exhibition
FLYER with text (862x1280) 

Whilst We Were All In The Eternal Now….
Whilst We Were All In The Eternal Now  (1959x3000) (836x1280) 
Untitled
01.09.20142.
The Mary Celeste project (The Scene of The Crash)



The Mary Celeste Project (The Scene of The Crash) from john Ledger on Vimeo.


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Feverish
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Timelapse video of the making of Feverish

This is just playing around really, not really having the equipment or space to make it effective.



Feverish (2014) time lapse from john Ledger on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Feverish (2014)

Feverish (new work). Ballpoint pen on paper
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It seems to me that the crucial thing to do right now (individually, socially, and internationally) would be to pause for deep reflection on the situation neoliberal economics has brought us to, as if we could reach a consensus to slow the treadmill back down to walking speed (at the very least). Ironically “pausing for reflection” is perhaps the one act that is fundamentally anti-neoliberal – and actioning this when its agenda dominates decision-making across the globe seems unfathomable. Yet this is what is needed if we are to even come close to stalling the rise in right wing populism, frightening levels of inequality, state surveillance, cyberspace misogyny, and (lest we forget) climate change.
When a lone human being hits a crisis point, they only recover after slowing down to the point of almost total entropy, often having to become so disillusioned with daily social reproduction, that society’s feverish demands of them become inaudible as one becomes (metaphorically-speaking) submerged underwater, in a state of ‘depressive withdrawal’. Beaten, bruised, and perhaps finding oneself back at the beginning of a rigged-game of snakes and ladders that constitutes life in such a competitive system, but nonetheless able to reflect, without respiratory unease.
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I have often found the dark optimism of theorist Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi’s potential solution of ‘depressive withdrawal’ from cyberspacial capitalism an inconceivable solution whilst the majority of us are put to (unpaid) work within cyberspace in order to hopefully track down a relatively worthwhile future for ourselves – especially as the unpaid labour we give extends far further into life than traditional job-seeking endeavours. With a process he calls ‘semiocapitalism’, Berardi tals of how our entire cognitive and emotional energies are appropriated into the reproduction of the system, and that this demand of us is in a state of perpetual acceleration. “Semiocapital puts [our] neuro-psychic energies to work, submitting them to mechanistic speed, compelling cognitive activity to follow the rhythm of networked productivity. As a result, the emotional sphere linked with cognition is stressed to its limit”. My own recent experiences of ‘trying my best’ via cyberpsace (interpreting and taking part in political discussion via social media platforms, whilst simultaneously trying to ‘career-hunt’, promote my art, and – wait for it – even considering Internet dating) has made me feel so disorientated, and unable to gain understanding of situations, due to the speed at which information sources bombard you, that I am now writing this after slowly coming up for air from month-long spell of depressive withdrawal.

Life is increasingly mediated via cyberspace – a mixture of platforms tending to and enhancing our panicky aspirations, our need of social approval, and depressive pleasure-seeking that results from the exhaustiveness of all that precedes it. Regarding trying to play a traditional participatory citizen’s role via Cyberspace, I have found myself bombarded daily with calls to stop TTIP, challenge the threat of UKIP, Boycott Israel, and help gain the Green Party the media limelight their policies deserve. Yet I feel bowled over, electrodes hitting me from all sides, ticking boxes of things I haven’t read, just ticking boxes of my pre-set ideas of what is just and unjust, not gaining a clearer understanding of anything, except a growing disbelief in the dissemination of information.

Yet social reproduction is incredibly claustrophobic once it is echoed from every device capable of connecting to the web. Our souls are put to work feverishly, trying to get places, gain things, learn things, yet learning nothing really. As the journalist John Pilger said in a recent lecture, the world is experienced as a “a tsunami of unexplained horror through the media”. Contemplation is squeezed into narrowing pockets of time, promoting its opposite: pure emotive reaction.

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The ‘social-disease of neoliberalism’ has taken over 30 years to reach its current austerity-age fever pitch level. When the profit motive eclipses everything else, reflection isn’t required, or given a chance; just the emotive reaction. No matter how much information disseminated about the truth behind Farage’s UKIP (for example), its emotive pull creates such a huge din that reason becomes unreasonable. Neoliberalism forces down upon us an emotive populism, from Xfactor-style television to UKIP-dominated current affair panels. Thought is compressed into tactics on how to gain ground in a race to the bottom reality, whilst the quality of our lives is evaluated via media-interfaces, often only leaving space for the grubby residue of life’s wealth – what Paul Verhaeghe calls ‘depressive pleasure-seeking’.

We have found ourselves living under a strange Autocracy of Populism. “Everything must be entertaining, everything must entertain”, and we are expected to be constantly performative (and with success). an exhaustive psychic shutdown and depressive withdrawal is inevitable to many of us; yeah, we start from scratch, but it always strikes again.

And all the while the so-called protestant work ethic has intensified in response to the increasing difficulties of getting by. With each of us working our hardest, hoping the system will spare us (and grant us the leafy and comfortably-off 2.4 children lifestyle) the survivalist instinct has become feverish, repeatedly reinforcing the dog-eat-dog social reality. Since the austerity-age reality adjustment of the past half-decade, the work ethic has become hysterical in society. To challenge hard work is seen as heresy. In fact work isn’t even good enough, you need to be striving to move onwards and upwards constantly. Yet this hysterical work ethic only registers paid work as legitimate; all the unpaid exhaustion of energy that constitutes our so-called leisure time isn’t recognise one bit.
To be successful is all. The biggest fear is to fail – to be systematically reduced to an ‘invisible’. Being socially visible, whether at celebrity or at group level is all – to be validated within the believed-to-be all-seeing all-knowing media (or social media), which the writer Carl Neville says has taken on the role of a “benevolent deity, conferring riches and status”[Classless, Zero Books]. Whether it is the high echelons of celebrity media, or cyberspace social media – it is the all-important decider.

In one of his essays on the erasure of class struggle within British cinema, Carl Neville says that “In Xfactor Britain, we’re all just one step away from being a celebrity. …that exclusive x factor, detecta ble only by those of truly heightened sensibilities such as Simon Cowell and Cheryl Cole [the media embodied], are your tickets out of the most degrading of all personal situations, anonymity”.
We’ve all been pitted against each other, all against all, in this daily exhaustion to ‘get out’, to escape poverty, misery, anonymity. No wonder video trends with names like Epic Fail are so popular on the one-versus-all battleground of social media. Is the Xfactor nation depicted in the 15 Million Merits episode of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror really so far from our current situation? Will our lonely and feverish plights to ‘get out’ get more desperate, and more ruptured by increasingly frequent depressive shutdowns?

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Within this drawing every figure is initially frantic. The zombie-like look isn’t coincidental; once the pursuit of ‘LIFE’ becomes feverish, lived life itself feels like it has ceased to be; many a frantic moment I have felt undead. It seems appropriate to add then that when I’m in a state of depressive withdrawal, whilst I go into a state of psychic shutdown, I still require to be in motion. But not frantic motion, more endless urban meandering, and a wish that the train journeys would never end, carrying on into an endless night. The problem isn’t movement, it is when competitive forces dictate movement. And these competitive forces are crucial to neoliberal dominance.

Our current situation isn’t understood because the speed of daily life has increased as to cancel out the bringing in of new understandings. Our current work ethos belongs in the 1970’s at the latest; in 2014 it is driving us mad, literally. The only solution is a reduction in the speed, but the fever has our blood racing. But patronising individuals by telling them to chill out and relax is both futile and part of the very atomising structure set in motion by the neoliberal ideology – ascribing an unreal self-determination to people which places them in charge of something they cannot alter from an individual basis, lets our current social reality off the hook. A global consensus on the need to stop and reflect is essential. If one chooses to argue that perpetual acceleration is at the heart of capitalism, then I think we can agree on the root-source of this ‘planetary mental illness’.
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Sunday, 7 December 2014

Non Stop Inertia: A Stuck Record @ The Anti-Gallery Show 2015

THE AGGS- 8-29 JANUARY 2015 small(1) 
In January, myself and John Wright will be performing our collaborative piece Non-Stop Inertia: A Stuck Record, as part of The Anti-Gallery Show 2015, at the Espacio Gallery in East London.
Instigated by the Degrees of Freedom artist collective, the Anti Gallery Gallery Show is an experiment in finding ways for artists to change their relationship with each other, their artworks and the public within a traditional gallery space so as to subvert its governing ethos- competitive individualism within a consumerist culture.
Alongide 35 other artists and art groups using the space from 8 to 29 January, we will be performing on the dates 15 to 17 January, at select time during those days. Please feel free to come down.


Non-Stop Inertia: A Stuck Record:



Non-Stop Inertia is a performance piece named after Ivor Southwood’s book of the same name. Southwood’s book takes a comprehensive look into the situation of the “deep paralysis of thought and action” caused by the “ideologically constructed” landscape of precarity. This affects mainly the younger generation of workers, but it is increasingly dragging even more people into a role, which economist Guy Standing suggests is the ‘Precariat‘, replacing the older term for the working class, the proletariat.

As much a psychological as a situational inertia, this “deep paralysis of thought” is basically what anthropologist David Graeber is referring to in his argument, “neoliberalism [the ruling economical dogma of the present reality] is a war against the imagination”. The stop, start and (finally) exhaustive effect of what Jodi Dean calls ‘communicative capitalism’, which in the age of cyberspace communication extends into all realms of waking (and sleeping) life, is arguably the neoliberal model par excellence.

The performance attempts to mirror this ‘paralysis’, to illustrate just how the ability to understand the social reality we are amidst is continuously broken up. But the crucial twist is in how this performance aims to bring this issue into the gallery by mapping the subject most present in all galleries: the gallery worker.

Out of all workers, the predicament of gallery workers appeared to us most appropriate. The gallery is an environment that has evolved over time with the aim of being an ideal space for contemplation by allowing the absorption of different ideas. The gallery worker (who remains there all day) is psychologically ambushed by contemplation; chronic (over)thinking is part of the job. Yet he/she is actually employed to be of constant service to the endless stream of visitors. A spoken introduction, an issuing of guidelines is required to be given out to every visitor who enters the often heaving galleries. The environmentally-enforced contemplation is continuously interrupted and sent back to square one. Indeed, visitors subjected to more than one of spiels given out often say “you sound like a stuck record“. Anybody who’s ever worked in a gallery can’t quite state why they felt so exhausted and defeated at the end of the working (“this job is easy isn’t it?”).

Both participating artists work and have worked as gallery invigilators for many years. We are experienced in the fundamental contradictions of both the gallery space, and the predicament of those who work in it, who are often mistakingly seen as volunteers “doing it for a hobby”, rather than doing it to put bread and beer in front of them.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Work featured in online magazine Little Performance

My work features in this months edition of the Liverpool-based on-line magazine Little Performance.

The specific page can be found here
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Regarding the information I provided to accompany the images, although it doesn’t wholly differ from what I usually say, there is a specific despondency which is specific to that time and place.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Work included in ‘Now In Reverse’ London-based exhibition

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My 2012 work The Planet’s Mental Illness will be on show as part of the ‘Now In Reverse’ exhibition at The Hundred years Gallery, in Haggerston, London. It will be nice to have it shown in the London area as it was the piece I was working on in the short period I spent living in the Metropolis (although the tube-like nature of the drawing isn’t referring to the underground system). unfortunately I won’t be able to make the opening, but if any of my London-based friends are around that area, please feel free to go on my behalf, so to speak.

Exhibition Dates: from Thursday the 4th to Sunday the 22nd of December 2014, Tuesday to Friday, 10am-6pm.   Saturday, 4-11pm. Sunday, 12-7pm.
 

Opening Night: Thursday the 4th of December, 6.30 to 9.30pm
 

13 Pearson Street
London E2 8JD

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

2014 mapmaking (part 8)

This is the 8th post in a series that I still call psychogeographical maps (or cognitive mapping). Quoting certain sections and using a selection of photographs to widen the project, which at its core still has the intention to be a Cognitive Mapping of Now – aiming to be useful for locating the current socio-political mood, and the psychological impacts of it.

The 1st post can be found here.

The 2nd here    The 3rd here      The 4th here      The 5th here    The 6th here   The 7th here

A collection of the 2014 maps can be found here.

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UK Weekend 15/16 November 2014

“Chilly, early evening, people gathered [for] slideshow projected onto building on Norfolk Street [Sheffield]. A homeless man, who I saw [asking for spare change] further down towards the station, shouts “yeah, nice pictures and nice music – that’s JUST what we need!” in a sarcastic tone as he walks past. [Even though my own art is featured in the projection] I can’t help thinking “he’s got a point.”

“Enterprise Zone/small industrial park next to junction [37]. Half-finished. Huge mound of excavated soil, overground and sinister-looking in the foggy night. A car pulls up, slowly, next to me, on this dead-end road. Can’t help feeling intimidated due to sinister connotations. However, I noticed they’ve pulled up to eat a chicken-based takeaway. Weekend salt and sugar fixes.”
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18 November 2014

“Feel slightly embarrassed (as if the all-seeing-social-media-eye is uploading my thoughts instantaneously) as I take a photograph of the word ‘Barnsley’ inscribed into the tombstone-like building, [that lists] the names of destinations outside Euston/London. If anything, I wish[ed] to express how it appears to have been built/engraved in an age when London respected the rest of the country, rather than dismissing if [maybe].”

“[At New Cross Gate Station] Talking at maniacal speed. Hyper-stimulated after being at a lecture where I went to study [once], in an environment I was in previously. It’s not a negative feeling, it’s a neurophysical rush. Yet within this state I become all-too-familiar with the reasons as to why I broke down when I tried to do my course here: the inability to have a ‘cut off point’ always leads to a crash. It’s a fact I can’t always come to terms with, and I know I’ll be depressed [later on] once I arrive on the ‘skeletal’ rail network of the north.”
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“[Row] of late 1990’s-early 2000’s-built houses, in the ‘deep Midlands’. When I think of the ‘noughties’, the Blair/Brown years, music by The Streets, the tail-end of the ‘binge-drinking era’, noughties ‘britpop’ [and the Iraq war as background noise], there is also an ideal-fitting location for it all, an era-fitting place. This is place is the Midlands of my mind. The North? No (still [older] terraces in my mind) London? No, [I think London is Now]. The Midlands. Perhaps it’s because the view from the train, with the exception of Leicester, seems to look out onto a landscape of [the last mass construction of – private – houses, in the boom years of New Labour]. The Midlands looks of younger housing stock. Perhaps it became the ‘filler’ for the necessary commutes in Thatcherite Britain[?].”

“Just as I’m about to leave the delayed train (at 12:30 am) at Darton, I notice the last remaining passenger, a young man, scrolling his Iphone screen. The moving images on the screen are clearly from sex-room, sex webcam sites. Perhaps the delayed train, alongside its emptiness, have made him ambivalent over privacy. Also, perhaps the anti-stimulating landscape of skeletal transport and life infrastructure of after-dark Northern towns have intensified his dependency on the endless ‘sugary’ stimulation that cyberspace makes always available for the inevitable depressive-pleasure-seeking occupiers of social space-made shit, up here. The fact that this just increases misogyny in real physical space is just the tip of the iceberg.”
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19 November 2014

Sheffield
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UK Weekend, 21, 22, 23 November

“[Sheffield Station] Water drips from Northern Rail Carriage, as everyone waits in haste for the doors to open. Two young men arrive in [sodden sports clothes]. [You can tell with some people that they’ve had a hard upbringing from their face-shape, their posture, and even their mannerisms]. They are drenched- only the poor get drenched in a rainy city. You never see the poor with umbrellas.”
“Peel Street often feels like the ‘Barnsley Badlands’. What I mean by this is that it feels like one of those locations where the fallout from welfare-eroding neoliberal economics [and the ideology it generates] is most acutely sensed. A one-time boulevard now in social disrepair – it almost feels more fitting to downtown America.”
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“The Only light given whilst walking alongside a road, lacking street lights, is from cars. yet this is what makes it so unpleasurable. Total darkness to total brightness makes me think about the [gaping] inconsistencies of modernisation.”

“Brightly-lit room, seen through bus window. A man sits alone (almost with a melancholic Edward Hopper solitude) staring at his electricity-guzzling aquisitions (giant fish tank and novelty lighting systems). It’s quite a sad scene.”
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Monday, 17 November 2014

Work as Big as Houses

I was really pleased to have images of my work in a projection show on Norfolk Street in Sheffield as part of the Wealthy Weekend event going on in the city over 12/16 November.
WEALTHY WEEKEND takes place on one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year, the University of Sheffield and the Guild of St George present a weekend of talks, visual projections, artworks and activities to re-define wealth that matters, inspired by John Ruskin’s belief that ‘THERE IS NO WEALTH BUT LIFE’.
Apologies for the poor quality imagery.
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Friday, 14 November 2014

Image featured in publication for ‘In The City’ project

The Image Dead Dreams from my video-piece the Mary Celeste Project (The Scene of The Crash) will feature in the In The City limited edition publication
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The publication is part of the In The City Project, hosted by Hanover Project at the University of Central Lancashire
Conference: Harris Building Room 155, Friday 21/11/14, 10:30am – 3pm
Exhibition Preview: Friday 21/11/14, 3 – 5pm
Exhibition Open: 20/11/14 – 10/12/14, Weekdays 10 – 5pm
The purpose of this exhibition is to explore perceptions of the city on a global scale. Artists are invited to reflect current cultural, social and political subjects through engagements with the built environment in which they live and / or work. The exhibition is the result of an open call for submissions, and works have been received from artists working in Ireland, Sweden, UK, Portugal, Lithuania, Denmark, Italy, Sweden, USA, Austria, Israel, Romania, Germany, and Qatar. A conference will take place alongside the exhibition at Hanover Project, where speakers will present themes central to the exhibition concept.
Travelling is an odd experience in the 21st Century. As one steps off a plane and heads towards a city, one is confronted with a familiar scene. There are a few relics from a distant culture, a few touristy spots for the ‘selfies’. But increasingly present are the generic office tower blocks and shopping malls – McDonalds, H&M, Lidl – the same lattes, fashion trends and boutiques. In cities such as Berlin, you cannot ignore the word gentrification as old buildings and autonomous establishments disappear to make way for more shopping malls, flash apartments and expensive bars.Globally, urbanity is changing radically. In the UK, traditional and historic markets are being turned into expensive artisan trade fairs and unique independent shops are being replaced with generic chain stores. The city is increasingly a playground for the wealthy, yet economically the West inparticular is in global financial turmoil. As late capitalism persists and growth continues beyond its means, individuals are increasingly suffering through job and service cuts alongside an increase in living costs.
All of these issues are imprinted onto the city through increasing evidence of affluence and depravity, and in the signage, buildings, bureaucracy, people, history, moments and actions that surround us. In this exhibition, works will collectively capture the impact of globalization as reoccurring themes are unearthed, whilst providing engaging dialogues between differing
viewpoints.
Unsight SIMON LE RUEZ, SHEFFIELD, UK. (web)

Hanover Project, c/o Victoria Lucas, Hanover Building, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, PR1 2HE

2014 mapmaking (part 7)

This is the 7th post in a series that I still call psychogeographical maps (or cognitive mapping). Quoting certain sections and using a selection of photographs to widen the project, which at its core still has the intention to be a Cognitive Mapping of Now – aiming to be useful for locating the current socio-political mood, and the psychological impacts of it.
The 1st post can be found here.

The 2nd here
The 3rd here

The 4th here

The 5th here

The 6th here

A collection of the 2014 maps can be found here.
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7 Nov 2014

“The Mary Celeste structure [overlooking Barnsley's inner ring road] is darkened by the downpour. And in turn it seems to be a metaphor for the early dark turn of the conversational subject matter, once I reassert the uneasy truth that this structure has been in this state for over 6 years – yet it is a largely ignored fact. It provokes an intensification in our wrangling conversation over ‘just what the hell is going on?’ “.

” Hemmed in’ plantation woodlands [Flouch roundabout] mark the roadway to the moors. Two bleak landscapes that compliment each other. Both man-made, so to speak., but both important (I believe) to (initially) the Northern Industrial psyche, and (currently) the always-on, hyper-connected psyche. [They act] as a physical reflection of the [empty feeling this speed causes [in us].”
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7 November 2014

“In a charity shop [in Congleton]. The playing of 50-year-old pop songs from the “good times” of popular culture induces in me a nauseating ‘dispiration’ for our ‘stuck record’ present.”

“In the Wetherspoons on West Street [Sheffield]. In the toilets two homeless males clean themselves up and stock up on toilet paper.This is [something I've never seen in this city before], highlighting how critical the homeless situation in the city has become.”
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11 November 2014

“[Nottingham city centre]. Walking past recruitment centre. People of all ages sat facing computer screens, and people stood outside [the centre] waiting at the bus stop. I feel for them; what an incredibly rigged game it is when you’re at the bottom [and you're trying to get a break]. I get the lyrics to [Pulp's] Common People running through my thoughts: “yeah and the chip stains and grease will come out in the bath”, because there’s no way of disguising your poverty, it really does cling to you. Everyone can see it, no matter how you try to hide it. Look over [the road] at massive concrete hotel. Now highly unfashionable. Built in a different era; with a different social reality.”

“Find myself incredibly hungry, with well over 2 hours until I get the train back. [My mind starts running down old and unhelpful psychological warrens, and when it's irrational thoughts VS illogical thoughts - one has to win over]. I lie to myself, convincing myself that the meandering that follows is for my ‘projects’. The hidden motive being the ‘eating disordered’ mental[ity] that returns when I’m low, lonely, tired and in an urban centre surrounded by (seemingly) infinitesimal choices. My thoughts pace back and forth between getting ‘food involving a drink’ in a pub, but I relapse [ever-so-slightly] into the late teenage me, who spent hours in supermarkets in a decision-making paralysis, due to all the choices on offer. the anorexic control mechanisms still try to get out of their cage from time to time; [the urge to have it back at the reigns is still very seductive].”
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11 November 2014

“Large open-cast mining area; [this area is still] generally industrial-looking. A landscape you could mistakenly think was of the past, coming from Yorkshire. Sometimes feels as if Yorkshire has been made into one tourist attraction, as in covering up the truth (as all tourism does); greened over spoil heaps, and severe poverty hidden by lush ravines in Sheffield. As if Derbyshire’s ‘secondary’ position in contrast to Yorkshire’s (increasingly annoying) self-indentit[ification] has kept it more real.”
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12 November 2014

“Unused grassland/wasteland area between railway track and disused viaduct [just outside Leeds Centre]. About 10-15 police officers walk together [through the grass] in a line, looking for evidence. A serious crime has obviously been committed here, in [an] area that will no doubt be swept under the glitter of ‘regeneration’ once the south Entrance to Leeds [railway] station is [completed]. But, as it stands, it looks like a ‘ideal crime scene location’ – as if this wasn’t real at all, but actually film set for the crime drama A Touch of Frost, which was actually filmed in this area.”

“As I head for the exit at Darton station I noticed stickers all around where the train doors are: English Defence League and Britain First stickers vowing to ‘protect us’ from ‘muslim pedophiles’. A sickly and medievalstyle to the stickers, and far right party logos. [It] makes my heart sink: “this can only get worse”, it feels to me. ‘The diseased isle’ to [paraphrase] Carl Neville. I wish I knew a solution; as far as I see much anti-fascist protesting isn’t quelling such views. And it’s so bad around here – alienating me from “my own turf”, so-to-speak. Only yesterday I saw a poster on a road sign near Cawthorne saying “Halal Fox”. Stupid/idiotic coupling of presumed ‘lefty’ things, but also dangerously striking subconscious chords – I’m sure.”

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