LONDON.- Olivia Plender's first solo exhibition in a London public gallery builds on her recent research into British national identity and the history of television.
Drawing from the fields of social history and historiography, Olivia Plender's work seeks to interrogate the methods and approaches used to record, interpret and recount historical events, thus considering the ways in which society produces knowledge. Her work takes the form of lectures, performances, installations, videos and publications which deliberately use non-establishment voices, such as that of the amateur historian, in contrast with the authoritative and didactic mode of presentation.
For Gasworks, Olivia Plender is developing a new video installation. The work delves into the history of mass public spectacle, the birth of the modern museum and the pre-history of television by focusing on the British Empire exhibition which took place in Wembley in 1924. As an event, it aimed to represent Britain's trading relationships with the countries which were part of the British Empire, whilst simultaneously stimulating the westward expansion of London, the birth of a new suburban lifestyle and of the leisure / tourism industry.
By considering the ritualistic and theatrical forms of display of imperial power and 'progress' embodied by World's Fairs, Plender's video installation makes parallels with the economic and social effects of contemporary mega-events such as the 2012 Olympics. Other current narratives - including the recent use of anti-terrorist law by the British government to seize Icelandic bank assets - will also feed into the installation at Gasworks. This will be composed of posters based on
theatrical playbills announcing seemingly absurd historical occurrences, museum-like dioramas and models reconstructing the interior of the New Zealand pavilion at the British Empire exhibition and a video which will result from a staged travelogue lecture- performance.
Creating a network of references spanning time and contexts, Plender's new work explores issues of sovereignty and incorporates her long lasting interest in political satire, popular printing and the travel narrative.
Olivia Plender is an artist living and working in London. Her work has been shown internationally in exhibitions and venues including the 2006 and 2009 Tate Triennial, Tate Britain; the Hessel Museum, CCS Bard, New York (2009); Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt (2008); The Power Plant, Toronto (2008); Transmission Gallery, Glasgow (2008); The Drawing Room, London (2008). Recent Solo exhibitions include Kiosk, Ghent (2009); Art in General, New York (2008); Marabou Parken, Stockholm (2007); Castlefield Gallery, Manchester (2005). She was the recipient of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Artists in 2006.