Artists: David Burrows, Lucy Cash, John Cussans, Melanie Jackson, Dean Kenning, Lucy A Sames, Hermione Spriggs. With performances by Aas and Plastique Fantastique.
Anthropologists: Narges Ansari, Igor Cherstich, Martin Holbraad, Kelly Fagan Robinson, Julia Sauma, Kaya Uzel.
Morphologies of Invisible Agents explores the relationship between the invisible and its tangible realisations in contexts of acute political change: from rampant capitalism, neoliberal reform and austerity to protest and revolution.
Through a diagrammatic foregrounding of the invisible agents at work in these contexts – spirits, forces, affects, ideologies – Morphologies of Invisible Agents confronts several questions concerning the qualities of a ‘social morphology’: might social transformations themselves have a diagrammatic quality? What is it that we see in the act of tracing moments and processes of social upheaval? What happens, for example, if we treat myths and rituals, ideologies and cosmologies, politics and governance as relational artefacts that diagram social relationships? How might these diagrammatic spectres be sensed and what happens when they become apparent? If social shifts are themselves diagrammatic, then might making a diagram be itself an avatar of and for social transformation?
The exhibition is the outcome of the Social Morphologies Research Unit’s (SMRU) long-term dialogue between artists and anthropologists, mediated by their shared use of diagrams as catalysts for thinking and doing social change. Collaborating pairs of artists and anthropologists use as their point of departure the shifting social tensions they detect in an array of settings: Shi’a rituals in Iran, revolutionary change in Libya and Cuba, the slashing of welfare in the UK, and more. Delving into the hidden dynamics of these social morphologies, the collaborating pairs present a series of speculative works that deploy diagrams and diagrammatics as not merely explanatory machines but as exploratory investigations to allow invisible agents to be sensed.
The Social Morphologies Research Unit is based in the Anthropology Department and the Slade School of Fine Art at University College London and is an offshoot of Comparative Anthropologies of Revolutionary Politics (CARP).