Coming soon to a riot torn town near you, a dystopian cityscape at 1:87 scale depicting a future police state…….
I first saw the iconic Aftermath Dislocation Principle project as a static display at Banksy’s Dismaland Bemusement Park in Weston-super-Mare last September; but after a stint in London it has now been cut down and is touring the UK mainland in a 45ft shipping container with 123 peepholes drilled all around it, each of which allow you to see vignettes of the miserable vision of the KLF’s Jimmy Cauty. From a distance the peepholes look like machine gun bullet holes, and although I don’t know if this is the intention I quite like that idea.
First Stop on the Riot Tour, which will be travelling around the UK and ending up in Bedford at Christmas, is the Bruton Art Factory. According to the promotional blurb, the criteria to host the installation is that in the last 1000 years there will have been a riot within 20 miles of your town or city; the riot commemorated here is probably just under 20 miles away…the Yeovil Glove Riot of 1831 which apparently kicked off when William Ponsonby, the Whig Reform candidate, was defeated by Lord Ashley in a Dorset parliamentary election in nearby Blandford.
But back to rural Bruton; it’s a sleepy little town; home to about 3000 residents. Nothing much happens here; it is quiet and surrounded by dairy farms. In fact while we were having lunch at the Green Monkey vegetarian cafe and juice bar (Rupert, please pass the Spirulina and wheatgrass), a tractor drove past. It is also very middle class, with several independent boarding schools (as well as a state co-ed boarding school, sniggeringly named Sexey’s School…located in…wait for it…Lusty Hill). The only likely chance of a riot in Bruton is if they run out of Malawi Mzuzu Chikali beans at the town’s Beanshot Coffee Roastery.
The town has in recent years become a magnet for the wealthy. Half of its inhabitants used to live in North London – just an hour and half away by train from nearby Castle Cary, while Hauser & Wirth Somerset (founded by the super wealthy Iwan and Manuela Wirth who now live locally) is a pioneering world-class gallery and multi-purpose arts centre (not the manufacturer of assault rifles and machine guns as the name seemed to imply to a pleb like me; perhaps after all it was one of their weapons that machine gunned the ADP container),
Pop into the swanky At The Chapel restaurant and bar (a grade 2 listed former chapel) just up the road, and you’ll likely find Mariella Frostrup propping up the bar as indeed my wife did. It is all frightfully civilised, although the town’s two pubs are suitably down at heel; there is also a charity shop as well as a food co-op.
The Bruton Art Factory itself is suitably unimposing, stuck in the corner of a small trading estate; barely noticeable apart from a small sign with the name on. Ascend a metal external staircase and you are afforded picturesque views of what may be scrap cars, a boat and rubbish and there you are, in a scruffy room with scuffed walls and the dilapidated feel of a squat or a 1980s student union common room. I was surprised not to see Neil, Mike, Rik and Vivian peeking out somewhere. It was not quite as highbrow as I expected
The main exhibition room hosts some remarkably naff pieces of art; perhaps I am not pretentious enough, and after all art appreciation is subjective, but in my opinion my cat could probably do better than most of it. Also within this room are some of Jimmy Caulty’s mini riot in jam jar scenes to accompany the main ADP exhibit. These are actually pretty good, physically accurate and incredibly detailed pieces, and this ongoing project has been in existence for several years. Each jar contains a liberal dose of visceral violence and a smidgen of thought provoking gallows humour contained in a little glass capsule…you can buy one if you want…with prices starting at a mere £250….and then throw it at a passing copper on your way home, for a truly revolutionary experience. There’s also a selection of smiley faced riot shields on offer, for a mere £1400 each, and at that price…no wonder they are smiling! If you’ve got the money to burn and want to make an exhibition of yourself, you are a little too late, Mr Cauty and his mate Bill Drummond did that on the Isle of Jura 20-odd years ago.
Out back, down the slope is the ADP container itself. Jimmy’s vision is not a pleasant one…peer into the container’s nightmare night time scenario and you can witness the scenes of anarchy, chaos and destruction that follow an outbreak of rioting in a fictional town, located somewhere in Bedfordshire.
It was cold and hailing (in April) as we looked in….which helped it feel suitably depressing…a little reminiscent of our tour of Auschwitz A POW Camp in the January snow; one of the 30-odd pupils from the nearby Bruton Primary School fell over while scrabbling for a look for added angst; the rest of the kids thought it was cool, wicked or brilliant – the exhibition that is, not the mishap, though if they love chaotic riots they probably thought that was ace too!
Suffice to say I enjoyed the exhibition….a lot of hard work has gone into the intricate little village; carnage and commotion everywhere: roads are wrecked; cars are crashed and burnt out; fast food joints are torched; the shops are all looted; and the cops have gone crazy. The illumination on the miserable scenes is provided solely by blue police lights, broken streetlamps and helicopter searchlights. From within the container can be heard the static and crackle of police radios. The police really do rule the roost….but in this vision there isn’t much left that’s worth ruling over……….and as DS Andy Cartwright says in Hot Fuzz (filmed just a few miles away in England’s smallest city, Wells)..”You wanna be a big cop on a small town? Fuck off up the model village”.
Although you are too late to see the ADP container in Bruton, the tour stops at these places. The scenes in jam jars continue to be displayed in the main gallery until 28th May 2016.
Some photos featured in the article are courtesy of the Noisy Cafe.
If you wish to see more photos by me, please check here.