Artists for Democracy (1974-1977): Revisited

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Press Launch

12 27 MARCH 2024

At England & Cos Task House, 2A Sackville Road, Piccadilly, London W1S 3DP

This is the 2nd in a sequence of exhibitions examining the pursuits of the 1970s artists collective firm, Artist for Democracy (AFD). It will be the last function of England & Cos 6-thirty day period residency at our undertaking house off Piccadilly.

Just around a calendar year in the past, in FebruaryMarch 2023, England & Co held the initially exhibition and archival display focused to Artists for Democracy (1974-1977). This began curatorial discussions inspecting AFDs beginnings in 1971 as the Artists Liberation Front, by means of to its pursuits as Artists for Democracy.

This present-day iteration contains some essential consultant performs from AFDs exhibition programme, which include David Medallas monumental painting with text transcription, Eskimo Carver (Eskimo Song by Orpingalik), a get the job done from Medallas participatory exhibition and multi-media installation, Eskimo Carver, held at the collectives squatted gallery in Whitfield Avenue, London in Might 1977. About 30 yrs later, the art historian and curator Man Brett wrote in Tate Papers that he experienced constantly felt that this rather obscure occasion was in truth a landmark exhibition of the 1970s.

Lynn MacRitchies exhibition and participation atmosphere, The Globe in a Grain of Sand was set up at Whitfield Avenue in March 1975. Pictures and archival materials remember this challenge on the political foundation of food items creation, with its concentration on grain as the workers of lifetime. MacRitchies contemporaneous artists e book of hand-colored photographs documenting this project is on screen in its entirety.

In 1976, younger artist Charles Hustwick was invited by Medalla to turn into involved with AFD, and he took aspect in several late AFD initiatives and performances. Hustwicks Trans-Clear sequence were being suspended installations of significant, painted, reflective sheets of cellophane: some have been exhibited at Whitfield Road in an setting he created in the summer time of 1977, and other folks most memorably installed in Mayfair Illuminations, the Artists Ball and concluding celebrations of AFD held at Hill House, Berkeley Sq. in August 1978, the yr adhering to AFDs departure from Whitfield Avenue.

In Could 1974, artists David Medalla, Cecilia Vicua, John Dugger and art critic Man Brett co-established Artists for Democracy, a collective formed to begin with to elevate assist for democracy in Chile immediately after the 1973 military coup, and to give materials and cultural assist to liberation actions around the globe, employing artwork as a way of making world wide political struggles obvious. A past collective proven in 1971 by Medalla and Dugger the Artists Liberation Front was the precursor to AFD with some of the similar customers and political agenda.

AFD organized the Arts Festival for Democracy in Chile at the Royal School of Art in October 1974 a important cultural celebration with quite a few very well-identified global and British artists, speakers, dancers and musicians getting aspect in the functions that were held over two weeks. In November that year, AFD regrouped soon after put up-Festival divisions, and Medalla and his collaborators squatted a setting up in Whitfield Avenue in central London, later on recognized as the Fitzrovia Cultural Centre. With the cooperation of numerous artists, good friends and supporters, this unorthodox cultural centre grew to become a tangible place exterior the artworld mainstream wherever they could develop and continue AFD pursuits.

AFD launched a new programme while preserving the ethos of corporation by consensus proven all through the Chile Competition: there was no established curatorial placement and any one who needed to be associated only turned up. Proposals for exhibitions or gatherings were being talked over and agreed at standard conferences of the members and members. The community programme opened in February 1975 with a show of AFD artists do the job in development and ongoing with solo displays and installations by artists such as Tina Keane, Lynn MacRitchie, Rasheed Araeen, Dom Sylvester Houdard, Virgil Calaguian, Charles Hustwick, and Stephen Cripps. The several group exhibitions and functions have been accompanied by slide reveals, online video and film screenings, performances, lectures and conversations, sustaining a progressive inventive and political agenda.