artist / participant

press release

AADIEU ADIEU APA (Goodbye Goodbye Father) is Olivia Plender's first solo exhibition in London. Developed from the artist's previous research into British national identity, as well as the history of television, this new installation delves into the history of mass public spectacle and its relationship to issues of sovereignty, by focusing in part, on the British Empire exhibition that took place in Wembley in 1924.

As an event, the British Empire exhibition aimed to educate the public about Britain's trading relationships with the countries that were part of its Empire, whilst displaying the apparent 'benefits' of Imperialism. Simultaneously, the event played a key role in promoting the emerging leisure and tourism industries, as well as the westward expansion of London which promised a new suburban lifestyle, branded as 'Metro-land' living.

By considering the ritualistic and theatrical ways in which imperial power and the idea of 'progress' were exemplified in World's Fairs, AADIEU ADIEU APA (Goodbye Goodbye Father) makes parallels with the economic and social effects of the contemporary tourism industry and mega-events, such as the 2012 Olympics.

The installation at Gasworks comprises of new works including a museum-like diorama: a partial reconstruction of the site at Wembley where the British Empire exhibition took place, in which models of all the national pavilions are overlaid with fictive narratives and contemporary scenarios. This is accompanied by a series of hand-drawn posters which, based on examples of popular printing through the ages, announce seemingly absurd historical occurrences. Meanwhile, a video work incorporating footage of Wembley stadium and its surrounding residential areas, functions as an absurdist lecture on British history. Other narratives related to the theme of nationalism feed into the installation: these range from the attack on the Rokeby Venus at the National Gallery made by the suffragette Mary Richardson in 1914, to the recent use of anti-terrorist law by the British government to seize Icelandic bank assets.

In her work, Olivia Plender seeks to interrogate the methods and approaches used to record, interpret and recount historical events. By creating a network of references spanning time and contexts, her new work explores theatricality in politics today and incorporates her long lasting interest in theatre of the absurd, political satire and popular printing.

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Olivia Plender
AADIEU ADIEU APA
(Goodbye Goodbye Father)