The Substitute is a sci-fi ghost story responding to the “bird free” environment of Heathrow Airport. The story is delivered via Tannoy speakers common to airport announcements and pest control, and is accompanied by a spinning bird decoy on which are mounted images of the artists’ eyes. The narrative is built entirely from found text pulled from commercial bird-control websites and advertisements for Heathrow's shopping outlets. The installation is presented in the square overlooking the river Thames, Brentford Ait and Kew Gardens, natural reserves for birds. Narrated through the speakers, The Substitute explores the spectral transformation of birds as we know them into data bodies and zombie-like decoys.
Commissioned for Air Matters at Waterman's art Centre, London, October 3, 2019 – January 5, 2020
Air Matters: Learning from Heathrow is an exhibition and programme of events that explores the politics of air. Focusing on the neighbourhood of Heathrow, it engages with the air’s materiality, occupation, and contestation, as well as with the potential and limitations of representing these themes by means of art. It comprises newly commissioned artworks, walking tours, workshops and a symposium, bringing together artists, community groups, industry professionals and scholars. It will be of interest to all those who have a stake in the neighbourhood’s environment and for whom art is a gateway to its discovery and transformation.
Curated by Dr Nick Ferguson in collaboration with Klio Krajewska at Watermans Arts Centre.