BIJAN MOOSAVI OPENS AN IMMERSIVE PORTAL INTO DEEP NEO-LIBERAL FUTURES AT GOD’S HOUSE TOWER
Southampton, UK: ‘a space’ arts presents GHT.2058: Asylo-جنّت; a major new commission by London-based Iranian multimedia artist Bijan Moosavi launching on the 24th of June at the historic God’s House Tower in Southampton. Part of ‘a space’ arts’ Art for Climate Action Programme, this immersive exhibition submerges the viewer in a fictional near-future climate dystopia created by neoliberal negligence and greed. Comprised of various materials and media hinting at climate catastrophes, science fiction dystopias, marketing overhype and Islamic Kitsch, the exhibition opens a portal into a deeply neoliberal refugee centre from the year 2058, which houses Middle Eastern asylum seekers displaced due to a global failure in dealing with the climate crisis.
This exhibition is a continuation of Bijan’s research and artistic practice, appropriating neoliberal aesthetics and spaces in order to speculate on deep neoliberal futures. GHT.2058: Asylo-جنّتemploys the sleek, hi-tech and hyper-positive vocabulary of neoliberalism to create a dubious and disturbing environment. In this vision of the future, the disastrous flaws of the ideology of ‘profit before community’ in the face of the planetary climate crisis begin to surface. As you enter the Main Gallery of God’s House Tower, you find yourself in an artificially-lit room, faced with multiple security fences which break the space into cell-like rooms, reminiscent of a detention centre. These rooms are connected through illuminated arch structures, commonly used in Islamic architecture. In each cell, there is an LED-decorated metal bed frame without a mattress, a rounded side-table topped with plastic roses, a fake KAWS Companion figurine, and other ornamental objects.
Digital screens in each of the cells act as windows to the dystopian world beyond the walls of God’s House Tower in the year 2058. Using Computer Generated Imagery (CGI), they show the building partially underwater, decorated with neon signs and other lighting features. This ‘footage’ is sometimes used as an advertising or marketing tool to promote the refugee centre, and at other times gives the impression of a CCTV live-stream from the exterior of the building enveloped in a thick layer of smog. The screens also feature intermittent news crawlers, weather reports and chat-bots that share updates, opportunities and information with the fictional occupants of GHT, projecting another layer of narrative onto the glossy sci-fi-esque surface of the space. In Bijan’s dystopian future, ideological deregulation and privatisation policies have turned the extreme weather conditions into a profitable marketplace; the exploitation of art by major global polluters as a means of green-washing has become ever more blatant; and the basic human rights of people displaced due to the climate crisis are left evermore at the mercy of the neoliberal idea of free market and profit making.
God’s House Tower (GHT) opened to the public in September 2019 with a dynamic programme of exhibitions, events and activities. Through inventive and imaginative programming GHT shares and celebrates its’ own special Southampton story through the permanent exhibition ‘stories behind the stones.’ Our changing programme of exhibitions and activities create opportunities for artists and audiences, open up conversations and create access for those facing barriers to heritage and culture. The programme empowers communities to be creators and develop a lifelong interest in arts and culture, along with diversifying Southampton’s creative community and creating role models to inspire a new generation of diverse creative communities in the city. For more information about GHT please visit – godshousetower.org.uk
Established in 2000, by artists for artists, ‘a space’ arts is the visual arts organisation leading on a range of artist development projects, including the Arches and Tower House studios, God’s House Tower, the RIPE programme, along with offering a bespoke range of Artist Resources. For more further information and an overview of our work please visit – aspacearts.org.uk