Mike Ricketts: SO IT GOES

Concerned with specific spaces and histories, Mike Ricketts develops projects that explore the uncertainties and paradoxes of contemporary public space. By asking questions, following unlikely leads and making propositions, Ricketts often runs into bureaucratic structures such as those associated with urban regulation and planning. The day-to-day operation of such structures, both at their fringes and in everyday scenarios, forms the subject and location of his work.

This exhibition is rooted in an exploration of the post-war history of Princesshay, Exeter’s main retail centre. Originally constructed by the City Council following the Luftwaffe’s so-called Baedeker air raids of 1942, Princesshay has since been redeveloped by a large commercial property company.  

After an extended period of exploring and researching this area’s history, collecting stories and meeting those working at this intersection between public and private space, Ricketts presents a series of new works including sculpture, video and various appropriated artefacts.

Sculptures such as Hag Stones (Exeter), 2014, the artist’s talismanic necklace, formed from threaded stones with naturally occurring holes that alternate with local estate agents’ business cards, sits alongside an industrial stainless steel marker, used to delineate boundaries between public and privately managed street space. This bespoke, amended object has been inscribed with the exact date on which the shopping centre will notionally return to public ownership some 190 years from now.

Various aerial views of the city sit alongside reproductions of municipal and corporate signage. Posters highlight the ongoing management and facilitation of the public realm.

Interspersed throughout the exhibition are copies of three books that Ricketts uses to expose the various symmetries and parallels that have unfolded through his research: a Baedeker guide to England, such as that used to plan the bombing of Exeter; City Planning Consultant Thomas Sharpe’s influential, modernist re-imagining of the post-blitz city centre of 1946; and a copy of Kurt Vonnegut’s classic time-shifting anti-war novel Slaughterhouse Five, of 1969, based on the author’s experience of surviving the wartime bombing of Dresden in February 1945.

Associated events:

Artist’s talk: Sat 25 April, 2.30pm, FREE

Mike Ricketts will discuss the themes of the exhibition and his wider practice.

Screening: Sat 25 April, 4.30pm, FREE

Film screening: A rare screening of George Roy Hill’s award winning 1972 adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s classic WW2 novel Slaughterhouse Five.

About the artist:

Mike Ricketts (b.1971) is an artist and writer. He read History of Art at the Courtauld Institute and graduated in Fine Art from Chelsea College of Art & Design going on to receive a PhD on contemporary art and urban social space. Recent projects have included a performance inside a prison on a cliff top in Portland, Dorset, a fly-posting project in a market town, and an article on artist Anne Hardy for Secession, Vienna.

Ricketts’ work has featured in exhibitions including: ‘The Vessel’, works|projects, Bristol (2013); ‘Notes from Nowhere’, Foreground Projects, Frome (2012); ‘Local Interference’, works|projects, Bristol (2011); ‘A Fire in the Master’s House is Set’, Chapter, Cardiff (2011) ‘The Crystal Palace (Destroyed)’, Works|projects, Bristol (2010); ‘Zero Budget Biennial’, Rokeby, London (2010); ‘Ouagadougou Rendez-Vous’, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso (2009); ‘Reverse Consultation (Old New Town)’, Harlow, Essex (2008), ‘Building, Dwelling, Thinking’, Laura Bartlett Gallery, London (2008); ‘Someone Else’s House’, 6 Hillsleigh Road, London (2007); ‘Picnic Area (Dumb Interior)’, Room, Bristol (2006); ‘Inventory: Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky’, The Approach, London (2000) and ‘The Office of Misplaced Events’, Lotta Hammer Gallery, London (1999). He has also made independent interventions in public space, for example ‘Cushion Distribution (Public Inquiry)’, Crystal Palace, London (2009)

Duration 20 March 2015 - 02 May 2015
Times Mon - Sat, 10am - 5.30pm
Cost free
Venue Exeter Phoenix
Address Bradninch Place Exeter EX4 3LS, ,
Contact 01392 667058 / art@exeterphoenix.org.uk / www.exeterphoenix.org.uk/category/art/

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