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Events Upcoming

Monsters of the World Tour

1 to 9 July 2022
6 – 4pm

Jon McCurley’s Monsters of the World focuses on the global chocolate trade through the lens of his Irish-Vietnamese roots, and his parents’ experience of meeting whilst working for Cadbury’s in the 1970s.

What do you see when you stare a the Commonwealth connections of Birmingham’s industrial past?

Monsters!

Descriptions of headless half human people with gold-coloured skin, seen at the farthest reaches of the world, are in practically every ancient and medieval European document regarding monsters. For over 2,500 years, religious and political leaders, explorers and scholars claimed that during their time in the ‘New World’, they encountered headless monster people.

These creatures, known as Blemmyes, had been seen climbing trees, hiding from people, talking softly, eating leaves, and generally being weird. To everyone’s horror, they were said to engage in cannibalism and worship non-christian gods.

Today, Blemmyes can be interpreted as proof of proto ‘fear of the other’, which helped inspire 17th century ideas like nationalism, and 20th century ideas like xenophobia and racism. Yet amazingly, during the Middle Ages, the Blemmyes were used to teach inclusivity and tolerance.

Within Bournville’s historic green spaces over two consecutive weekends in July, a group of performers will recreate the fantasy of the Blemmye, as was apparently witnessed by European imperialists. The performers will enact behaviour and activities which were said to be ‘true’ in maps and travel journals over thousands of years.

The so-called ‘edges of the known world’, where mythical monsters were claimed to have existed in previous centuries, appear to mirror today where multinational companies extract resources, exploit labour, open new markets, and sell products.

 

The Monsters of the World Tour launches at Eastside Projects on Friday 1 July, 6pm, before moving to Bournville for Saturday 2 July and Saturday 9 July:

MONSTERS OF THE WORLD TOUR

– DFF Launch: Eastside Projects
Friday 1 July, 6–8pm
86 Heath Mill Lane, B9 4AR

– Bournville Women’s Recreation Ground
Saturday 2 July, 10am – 4pm
B30 2LU (access via Bournville Lane, or Mary Vale Road)

– Bournville Park
Saturday 9 July, 10am – 4pm
Access via Linden Road or Selly Oak Road


Jon McCurley (b.1982, Toronto) works in performance, film, sculpture, and theatre. He was half of the art group Life of a Craphead (2006 – 2020), projects include King Edward VII Equestrian Statue Floating Down the Don River (2017), where a life-size replica of a well-known colonial statue was dumped into a Toronto river on a weekly basis for a month; and Doored (2012 – 2017), a monthly live broadcast performance art show that featured over 150 performers over the span of 5 years. In 2018 Life of a Craphead was nominated for the Sobey Art Award. 

His work investigates the diaspora, identity and white supremacist culture. His most recent show, Skull Island (2022) at Écart, Rouyn Noranda, is a collection of work about a trip to Vietnam where he discovered that the King Kong movie Kong: Skull Island (2017) had been filmed in the city where his family comes from, Ninh Bình. In 2023, he has an upcoming show at Richmond Gallery (Vancouver).