For his solo show ‘Unidentified Political Object’ at IMT, Gordon Shrigley repositions his 2010 manifesto ‘Without Residue’ as a central document for ‘Campaign’; a provocation in which he seeks to critique the aporiacal nature of our political climate through intervention, appropriation and exposition. Throughout the exhibition Shrigley has stood as a prospective Member of Parliament for Hackney South and Shoreditch in the 2015 General Election. This act has captured the imagination of the national press, with the Guardian reporting the work as an act of potential nihilism and the Mirror deeply amused at the prospect of a MP without a recognisable set of policies. This continues a grand narrative; the press professing bafflement in the face of conceptual works, yet giving a space for the artwork to live in the minds of its readership. It is in these moments that the ‘space of possibility’ that is outlined in ‘Without Residue’ is realised. The continued events of reporting neatly echo back to Shrigley’s concerns with the potential that manifestos hold in disseminating radical narratives out into the public realm via political theatre.
For ‘Unidentified Political Object’ the physical presence of works in the gallery become companion to the works’ existence as a spectacle on social media. ‘Without Residue’ exists at IMT placed for a sole reader in the corner of the gallery. At the same time it is available for readers to engage digitally. As you leaf through it you face the wall, the dimensions of the publications support activation as a pulpit or lectern, foregrounding the orator in your mind. There is another readership created through Shrigley’s appropriation of hashtags from #BattleForNumberTen, #HSBC to #HeCanNeverBeBae that sees ‘Without Residue’ as a series of flickering statements, an unstable element in a mass of sedentary expression. The work becomes a meme (the artist as your elected representative), yet it directly echoes a reality found dormant in the RIBA library by Shrigley that uncovers the architect John Slater’s time as a Conservative MP. The works that are exhibited with the manifesto speak of the relics of lost ideologies ‘Cosmonaut’ turns upside-down the found portrait of a heavily decorated Communist military figurehead; who becomes as unknowable as the contents of Budapest’s Memento Park. In ‘Pioneers’ a found image of a smiling family stand by a satellite dish pointed out to the cosmos. Sited on the floor of the gallery is ‘Out of the Half-Light’ an ascending set of MDF structures which act as podium, hustings, or bar chart, a logic interrupted by the placement of a crafted final work placed to float above the tallest structure.
In considering the demands that a blank page asks of its author; Shrigley states in ‘Without Residue’ “For who could possibly say no to a new beginning? Who could possibly refuse such an unusual offer?” Our MPs offer the improbable every day, without the engagement of the imaginary. This proposition for open space could be embraced by the voting public - watch the results for Hackney South and Shoreditch with a keen eye.