Gladiator, 2016 (Artefact commission)

© Hollington & Kyprianou. Digital composite using ITN news archive

Gladiator, 2016 (Artefact commission)

Hollington & Kyprianou

The British government’s head finance minister - known as the Chancellor of the Exchequer - performs a ritual before delivering his yearly financial statement to parliament. He leaves his official residence, Number 11, Downing Street with a red ‘budget box’ and displays it to the waiting press. The word ‘budget’ has its roots in the French ‘bougette’ or small bag, considered at one time sufficient to hold an individual’s wealth. These red governmental briefcases contain British ministerial papers and are lined with lead, once meant to ensure that the box sank when thrown overboard in the event of capture. The red ‘budget box’ was first used in 1860, by Britain’s then Chancellor of the Exchequer, William Gladstone.
Hollington & Kyprianou’s Gladiator reworks the ritual as performed in 2011 by the ex-Chancellor George Osborne in an installation that combines digital compositing with a theatrical illusion that uses reflections in glass, a technique known as ‘Pepper’s Ghost’. Seen by many as the most right wing Chancellor in British history for his ideologically driven ‘austerity’ policies, it is perhaps fitting that digital smoke and actual mirrors are used to separate and then reunite the performer from the symbolic container of the nation's finances in a spectral embrace. On one screen, the ritual is reduced to just the box itself, coming across as a levitating parlour trick. On the second screen, the box is removed and the Chancellor is digitally filled in, refocusing on the Chancellor’s expressions and movements. His raised fist echoes both a Roman emperor about to decide the fate of a gladiator and a magician appearing a penny from his sleeve.

Hollington & Kyprianou (UK)

Simon Hollington and Kypros Kyprianou have been collaborating for over fifteen years producing installations, videos, publications, performance and site-specific interventions. They willfully disturb competing histories, subjectively comparing and combining elements to create new narratives that are simultaneously funny and unnerving. Their diverse body of work has explored the relationship between science fiction and science fact; revolutionary politics and magic; time travel and military design; branding and propaganda; the nuclear power industry and the pr industry; and technology and the uncanny. The works are often based within a historical context, are activist in intent and explore narrative as a way of challenging the notional gap between fact and fiction. Hollington & Kyprianou are based in London and Newcastle, UK.

21 FEB - 9 MAR 2017


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