Small Acts of Resistance


Written by Marlon Dolcy
15 Monday 15th November 2010
Taking its title from a book by Steve Crawshaw and John Jackson, Small Acts of Resistance aims to promote advocacy through art, by bring together five artists who specialise within this field. Politically charged works of art by, Peter Kennard, Matt Small, Armsrock Know Hope, Dotmasters and an installation by Swoon all occupy space within Black Rat Projects gallery in Shoreditch. Don’t Panic eased on up to the gallery to give our verdict.
Matt Small, whose wild array of splattered colours fuse on the portrait of his subject in a supposed spontaneous manner, is the most visually stunning artist on display here. I first noticed his paintings at the Moniker Arts Fair where he managed to capture the eye and attention of many. His works here are ethereal portraits of children from an African village of whom he spent some time with. Small was a runner up to the BP Portrait awards and the paintings here of Saved Chewe, Cyrus, Victor Bwalya and Jason are depictions of marginalised figures of society. They were constructed from found pieces of metal, where his ethos is allowing the “spectator to spend time with these people” and supports his artistic theory that “all individuals have something to contribute to society”. His paintings are realistic in their execution yet psychedelic in style; adding to its striking aesthetic. Alongside Swoon, his art concentrates on the theme of social inclusion.
Danish artist Armsrock’s stunning drapes more than the other artists, directly deals with the theme of activism and resistance. His Mob Dialectics (I still want to riot) banners hang down from the Gallery’s ceiling, displaying scenes of turmoil and tension. The black and white drapes are printed on either side. They seem like highly accomplished drawings with each picture telling a story; something wrong has happened, which has stirred people to act in anger, which is what I think Armsrock is trying to achieve.
DotMastersCapture’ series is in two parts and occupies a small but ultimately shocking, supposed critique on the media and terrorism. A “television set” is placed in front of a couch, where the slides depict certain high profile and political events in the news. The same images occupy the wall space; based on CCTV footage, among the spray painted pictures are the result of London’s 7/7 bombing of the bus, the Brinks Mat robbery, and the aftermath of Jean Charles de Menendez’s shooting.
Elsewhere the accomplished photomontage artist Peter Kennard, displays grainy black and white portraits of victims of war. The portraits come from the point of view of a sniper gun with a target fixated on each person. One of the portraits seems to be screaming in anger, Munch-Scream-esque. Know Hope, and Swoon also put some pieces out with Swoon conducting a large installation on the back wall of the gallery titled Haiti.
The exhibition was thoroughly enjoyable with a message that goes on beyond its aesthetics. In truth it does what it set out to achieve, highlighting the repressive character of corporate capitalism. Through execution and style, these works have set out to challenge dominant hegemonies. It might not spark a revolution, but Chomsky would be proud.
For more information visit the Black Rat Projects website,

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