Ned Ludd, wall installation, 9×2.40m, canvas tape and canvas fringing, BANK space, CASS, London Met University
Linking to the project ‘Who is afraid of the invisible hand’ (Vienna, 2012) and the British School in Rome residency, Medjesi-Jones will expand on her utility and mediation of gesture as a site-specific and perfomative action. By looking at the history of political activism, in this instance the Luddites movement from the 19th century England, Medjesi-Jones aims to highlight the material functioning of gesture in relationship to language, image production and history. The Luddites revolt against technology that is understood as a direct and violent response to industrialization is a point of departure for the wall-based painting Medjesi-Jones will install at the Bank space at the CASS.
At the core of the project lies the exploration of labour as a value system and a time-based activity that structures all social, political and individual institutions and relations. Material in its execution, the project carefully considers the history of textile industry, weaving in particular, mapping the process of de-industrialization (from bartering economy to digitalized information networks) that affect both social, political and global investments and interactions.
The folklore of Ned Ludd and the Luddites revolt are used as both a symbol and propaganda for the forms of resistance provoked by the imposed changes in the labour structure. Equally, it charts the shift in the physical manifestation of labour from performative action towards virtual and automated flows of information we communicate today. The fear of technology, as the meaning of the word luddite indicates, is therefore not so much a resistance to the new forms of production as it is a fear of joblessness and the lack of social identity it brings forth.
The process of canvas unpicking structured into the letters “LUDD” is a direct return to the physical aspects of labour that are interpreted as menial activities associated with the everyday. Seen in the context of painting, it is counterproductive to the assumed expressiveness of gesture as it destabilizes the systematic grid of the canvas structure as a surface support. This is seen by Medjesi-Jones as an open invitation to the processes of socialization and interaction that can be executed regardless of painterly skill so highly merited in painting; crediting instead the process of making absorbed through labour as a highly priced commodity in danger of extinction.