The Radicalisation of an average person
#Viraltile came from the deepening sense of despair and powerlessness I felt as I read the papers, and my various news feeds. All the terrible things that were happening in my lovely country. Starting with the bogus referendum which totally stripped away part of my identity. I was surprised how much this hurt, and how long I grieved for my European identity, How could someone, for seemingly, personal power plays or party politics, and massively to the detriment of our country, strip away our EU membership with all the benefits that this brought, This was how I felt, and I knew I was not alone.
The unleashing, and manipulation of the leave campaign's rhetoric, of a far right, racist, xenophobia, latent in many of our countrymen, culminated with the murder of Jo Cox.
This was the start of my radicalisation. I was a fairly non-radical at least non-activist, middle-aged foster carer.
But the comedy that was UK politics ground on with an ever increasing sense of disbelief, I watched, then I marched, I canvassed. I protested.
Amidst all this madness I found inspiration in a story I read about Otto and Elise Hampel who bravely hand wrote postcards of dissent and left them around Berlin protesting against the Nazi regime. I decided to do something similar, I started to make collectible ceramic tiles, re-drawing or printing memes, posts and tweets from social media, that would hopefully intrigue, amuse and spread the word, like a virus. I left them around my city. I hoped to encourage others to stand against the madness. #viraltile#resist people can join together and make a difference, we can change things.
#viraltile, the project
This project can trace its antecedents to, protest art, art intervention and interactive art practices. It does not hang nor is it placed in a gallery, or studio.
It seeks to engage and entice the public into curiosity, and in this way communicate its message. The work will be left in the public domain to be discovered. Some will be on spikes in the ground, some will be left loose on ledges others will have magnetic backs or wire fasteners to hang on gates, posts or fences. Any with rude words will be hung or left above the five foot ‘watershed’. The decision has to be made by the finder “Shall I take it ?” Hopefully they will be taken, and should become the beginning of their collection. The ‘Austerity Icons’ use a gingerbread man, a child’s biscuit cutter shape, folded into classic poses of sleep and death, or with a hole cut representing an empty tummy, symbolising the people who have either lost their lives, homes, or have to use food banks to survive since the first conservative government implemented their devastating austerity policies in late 2008.
Each tile is decorated with a Meme or tweet downloaded from Facebook and Twitter. They will have a QR code on the reverse that, when scanned by a smartphone, will take the finder to the twitter feed. This will also be linked to a Facebook page and a blog.
For this artwork to be deemed ‘successful’ it must spread like a virus on social media, the tile finders, becoming complicit in its spreading, by uploading a selfie of them holding the found tile or icon to the web. In this way spreading the messages on the tiles, and in social media parlance becoming ‘viral’.