Re-sonating Women of the Paris Commune: Communing print, politics and improvisation exhibition, MayDay Rooms London, 6 June – 3 July 2024

MayDay Rooms, Fleet Street, London

Exhibition from 6th June to 3rd July

Opening 7pm Thursday 6 June/Closing performance event  Polimprov  (Gill Whiteley and Geoff Bright) 7pm Wednesday 3 July

MayDay Rooms is open Wed – Fri  11am-6pm so check their website for times

Gillian has investigated historical and contemporary forms of ‘art activism’, through research, writing and curatorial projects for almost thirty years. Her work considers ‘indisciplinary’ subversive practices that challenge forms of political power, disrupt the hegemony of capitalism and pre-figure or enact other possible worlds.  Improvisation is fundamental to her practice alongside the reuse and revaluing of discarded materials.  The process of ‘re-sonation’ opens up the limitations of dominant forms of celebration and creatively reactivates singularities lost in archival processes.

Working with handprinted letterpress, salvaged packaging, discarded books, old maps and other found printed and paper ephemera, the exhibition features a series of ‘pocket pamphlets’, notebooks, mini-posters and other printed items that highlight the politics, ethics and aesthetics of working with ‘rubbish’. With a new series of pamphlets, it focuses on Resonating Women of the Paris Commune a ten week online project in 2021 (the Commune’s 150th anniversary year) that celebrated les petroleuses. Each week featured a dedicated letterpress print to ‘name’ a woman communard, provided research and a short freely improvised sonic piece. The exhibition closes with a freely improvised live performance and discussion on improvisation as a generative politicised practice from collaborative duo, Polimprov (Gillian Whiteley and Geoff Bright).

Other work shown includes Ten Anarchist Women, pamphlet series with quotes from women anarchists of the 20thc and Words by Gerard Winstanley, Digger and True Leveller, pamphlet series featuring quotes from his 17thc writings. These and other printed booklets, pamphlets, posters and cards will be available for sale, 50% proceeds to Mayday Rooms.

Other info/bios

Gillian is a multi-media artist-improviser creating ludic and sonic dissent with performance drawing, printmaking, musical instruments and objects. Collaborations include Isolation Improv Drawings, Les Petroleuses Publications include Junk: Art and the Politics of Trash (2011) and Art, Politics and the Pamphleteer (2021). She is Honorary Fellow at Loughborough University and co-editor of the RadicalAesthetics-RadicalArt book series for Bloomsbury.

Geoff Bright is an independent researcher, improviser and live art performer. A former Research Fellow at Manchester Met University, his published work is at the intersection of philosophy, social theory and cultural studies and reflects on the relationship of anti-capitalist politics and improvisation Performance projects include Dividual Machine, Oppositional Defiance Disorder,J[a]B[a]W, Proposition 5, The Bottom End and Treignac Projet, France (2019).

Sharing a kindred political sensibility, Gillian and Geoff have worked together in various collaborations with other artists and musicians including Gated Community, Magna: Node, Flow, Mass, Alchemy/Schmalchemy. As [the gathering…the chewing], they work in multi-media improvisation, creating and curating collaborative videos, installations and performances: a recent series of videos includes Daily into the Blue  (2021) as part of  Here, There, Everywhere at AC Institute, New York. They are currently co-curating, Workground/Playtime< >Playground/Worktime, an improvised sonic/visual/movement project linking two specific post-industrial sites in Sheffield. Their latest platform, Polimprov, attempts to enact the countercultural militancy of free improvisation.