artist / participant
Mikhail Karikis’s practice embraces moving image, sound, performance, and other media, and emerges from his long-standing investigation of the voice as a sculptural material and a political agent. His works explore the energies that create collectivist dynamics, and are intended to resonate with people’s economic, cultural, psychological, and moral circumstances. He often collaborates with communities to orchestrate performances to film, in order to highlight alternative modes of human existence.
Love Is the Institution of Revolution features two projects by Karikis: Children of Unquiet (2013–15) and Ain’t Got No Fear (2016–17). Both focus on the voices of post-millennials and their visions of their own future in the wake of rapid deindustrialization in the West, specifically in Europe, and legacies of crises (from environmental to financial) inherited from the current power-holding classes.
Children of Unquiet takes place in the Devil’s Valley in Tuscany, Italy. This is the very location where sustainable energy production was invented a century ago, and where the first geothermal power station in the world was built. Until recently, five thousand workers and their families lived there in a group of villages designed by the architect Giovanni Michelucci. Following the introduction of automated and remote operation technologies, unemployment increased and prospects for the young became limited, resulting in rapid depopulation—even the abandonment of entire villages.
The centerpiece of Children of Unquiet is Karikis’s film of the same title, which he produced in collaboration with 45 children from the region. The film orchestrates their takeover of a deserted village. Youngsters five to 12 years old burst into the eerie, depopulated site and nearby scorching, vaporous wasteland and turn it into a playground. They read about love, work, and the productivity manifested by insects, and sing along with the Earth’s roaring geothermal sounds and the incessant hum of factory drones that form the soundscape of their childhood.
For Ain’t Got No Fear, Karikis worked with teenagers who live in Grain, a remote industrial corner of southeast England. In response to the isolation of their village, and the consequent lack of places and opportunities to express themselves, they organized raves in a local forest, which were raided by the police.
Using as their beat the persistent crushing noises from the demolition of a nearby power plant, boys of eleven to thirteen years sing a rap song they wrote about their lives, in which they recall memories of their youth and imagine their future in general and old age in particular. Reminiscent of a grime video, the film offers glimpses into teenage experiences on the edges of urbanity, following the youths to their secret underground hideaways in disused military tunnels and capturing their rackety reclaiming of the site where the raves used to take place.
Children of Unquiet and Ain’t Got No Fear reveal ways in which youths reimagine industrial locations with a sense of spatial justice defined by friendship, collective agency, love, personal empowerment, and the thrill of subverting authority. By turns playful and meditative, spectacular and intimate, operatic and realist, these works resonate with new ways of thinking about the destiny of territories scarred by industrial obsolescence, and hint at foreseeable or potential futures conjured up in the imagination—both poetic and activist—of the generation most affected by current social shifts.
Mikhail Karikis (b. Greece, 1975) lives and works in London. He has had recent solo shows at Carroll/Fletcher, London (2015-16) and The Gallery, Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle, UK (2015). Recent group shows include the British Art Show 8, various venues, UK (2015–17); the 19th Biennale of Sydney (2014); and Manifesta 9, Genk, Belgium (2012).
Love Is the Institution of Revolution is curated by Miguel Amado and Kevin Muhlen. The exhibition was initiated by Casino Luxembourg – Forum d’art contemporain and is organized in collaboration with Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, UK.