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  Steve McQueen, Video Installation, The Whitworth
Major Steve McQueen Video Installation Work Acquired By The Whitworth - ArtLyst Article image

Major Steve McQueen Video Installation Work Acquired By The Whitworth

23-09-2016
 
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An important video installation by the acclaimed British artist and Oscar-winning film director Steve McQueen has been acquired by The Whitworth in Manchester.  The gallery will become the first UK institution outside of London to acquire a work by the artist. It will be added to the galleries internationally significant contemporary art collection. The acquisition has been made possible by the Art Fund, the Arts Council England/ Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund and through the generosity of private benefactors.

Ashes began its story in 2002 on location in Grenada. Filmed on Super 8 by Dutch cinematographer Ronnie Müller for McQueen, it depicts a young black man named Ashes in a boat on the blue Caribbean Sea. Dressed in washed-out shorts he is beautiful, laughing and full of life. When McQueen returned to the Caribbean in 2013 he learnt Ashes had been shot dead in a drug and gang related crime. This harsh reality drove McQueen to create the reverse of the artwork which shows the construction of Ashes’ tomb in a Caribbean cemetery and the etching of a memorial plaque for this grave. Highlighting the violent and wasteful deaths of many young Caribbean men caught in the drugs trade, the work uses a filmic simplicity that contrasts the energy of the young man and bright colour of the ocean with the site of his grave, topped with grey concrete, paint and dark etched granite. 

Dr. Maria Balshaw, Director of the Whitworth commented: ‘Ashes by Steve McQueen is an extraordinary film by one of the world’s leading artists. It shows the extreme contrasts of Caribbean life but is also a telling commentary on issues of belonging and self-worth for young black men in the UK. It is a major addition to our contemporary collection that will also be a cornerstone of our important engagement work with young people in Manchester’. 

Stephen Deuchar, Art Fund director, said: “The Whitworth is very committed to building up a significant collection of artists’ film, and earlier this secured Isaac Julien’s Ten Thousand Waves through the Art Fund’s Moving Image Fund scheme.  The addition now of Ashes by Steve McQueen, one of the UK’s most celebrated artists and film directors, is a spectacular follow up.  As the only work by McQueen to be acquired by a public collection outside of London, this is a really major acquisition for the gallery and for Manchester.”

Over the next two years the Whitworth will expand its collection of moving image artwork. Steve McQueen Ashes (2002 – 2014) is added alongside the recently acquired Michael Landy Four Walls (2004); Willie Doherty The Visitor (2008); Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson The Fireworks 2007; Laure Prouvost Monolog (2009) and Isaac Julien Ten Thousand Waves (2010)

 Over the next two years the Whitworth will expand its collection of moving image artwork. Steve McQueen Ashes (2002 – 2014) is added alongside the recently acquired Michael Landy Four Walls (2004); Willie Doherty The Visitor (2008); Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson The Fireworks 2007; Laure Prouvost Monolog (2009) and Isaac Julien Ten Thousand Waves (2010)

Steve McQueen (b. 1969, London) is an internationally acclaimed British artist and film director. McQueen trained at the Chelsea School of Art, London; Goldsmith’s College, London; and the Tisch School of Arts, New York University. He was the recipient of an ICA Futures Award (1996); the Turner Prize (1999); the Sydney Film Prize, Sydney Film Festival (2008). His work has been shown at Documenta (1997, 2002, 2007) and at the Venice Biennale (2003, 2009, 2013, 2015). He has had several major solo exhibitions, including at the National Portrait Gallery (2010), the Chicago Art Institute (2009), Fondazione Prada, Milan (2005), and Espace Louis Vuitton, Tokyo (2014).

 


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