PROPAGANDA: Presented by Local Transport at Ace Hotel – Exclusive Interview with Danny Augustine

From selfies to citizenship, the laws we obey and the laws we challenge, who are we? Local Transport’s third stop on its cultural adventure is Propaganda, bringing together three artists and writers whose work questions the notion of truth and identity today. With special performances and readings curated just for Local Transport, the audience will create the artist Danny Augustine, (art materials provided), Katrine Marçal will reveal one of the biggest swindles of the last two centuries, point to the culprit and how to take him down, Afshin Dehkordi presents a child’s view of life in Iran and a glimpse behind state-sponsored ideological texts.

Each performer has fifteen minutes to deliver a short, sharp shot of culture. Each edition of Local Transport is a critical and conceptual multimedia event that explores contemporary society, culture, politics and economics through the prism of multidisciplinary creative works.

“Every artist has a discourse, yet we often obsess more over the disciplines within which the work exists, instead of listening to what the artist actually has to say,” – says co-founder and co-curator Michael Salu. “We curate in a way that keeps our audience at the razor’s edge of cultural production in London,” co-founder and co-curator Saskia Vogel says.

“In a big, busy city, it so easily happens that you gravitate to and get comfortable in one scene. Our audience comes for the unexpected: to see a something they know they’ll love and to discover two new work. And we wanted to get a wild mix of people into one room and see what happens.”

 

After Nyne’s Arts Editor Luciana managed to grab a few minutes with artist Danny Augustine in the forerun to his performance next week. As a nod to the Abromavic’s The Artist is Present, Augustine presents us with the question Who is the Artist? All materials will be provided, all that is required is the presence of all in attendance and their willingness to create the artist. (Participation not mandatory, but you don’t want to disappoint Big Brother, do you?)

Danny’s work leaves the viewer both with a sense of what could have been and with a sense of how those feelings have been distorted by gender politics and advertising. His work deals with ideas of identity, gender and how it is portrayed in today’s society. Propaganda sees a shift direction for Augustine who will be interpreting the themes behind his print works into performance, essentially transferring the medium while retaining meaning. The final result will be screen-printed and turned into an art book by Jealous Gallery.

LG: Tell me a little about your onset with art, is performance something you’ve ever dabbled in before?


DA:
No, it’s the first time I’ve even thought about it. I’ve always shied away from performance art. I met Michael at the graduate show, and after having seen my works we’d overstepped our meeting from just being an occurrence of “networking”… he thought I’d be able to come up with something that could add to the theme [of the event] Propaganda. One of the aims behind this particular piece is to “Create The Artist”….?Well, no. It’s supposed to start a conversation – that’s the important thing. It’s not about just one thing. I don’t really like work to say it’s explicitly about this or that, because from there it’s just ends, you look at it, say “okay” and walk on; the experience ends. With this particular piece, there is so much going on, there are parts that are quite subtle but there are also parts that are very in-your-face… so you can take compartments of it all and isolate them to discuss and explore them deeply.

As a nod to Marina Abromavic’s “The Artist is Present” will you be undertaking a passive role?

Yes, it’s going to be a vulnerable pitch. I am, in quote, a “Black Artist” and to see a twenty-something black guy living in London putting himself in a role where he is completely naked and vulnerable, is not something you see very often, or ever. The only time you ever see young black men naked is if it’s related to slavery or themes of hyper-sexuality. It’s something no one has ever seen but probably also never really thought about. Of course, nudity in performance art isn’t a new thing, but I’m satisfied in the knowledge that *this* particular instance is new.

Do you think the artist eventually resumes a passive role once his/her work is complete and ready to be exhibited?

I don’t know how I will react after it’s through, I don’t know what’s going to happen… I just don’t know. I don’t know how the audience is going to take it. A key part of the performance is that everyone in the audience will be given disposable cameras, others will be drawing, and  everything that is collected after will be made into a book that has documented the entire experience. So I will be disconnected from it in that sentence, I can’t collect the experience. It will be dark in the venue, and the movement of the lights and flashes will make everything quite obscure, the obscurity is key in capturing how important it is.

Is this particular piece for you, autobiographical? 

I guess it is. I’m constantly trying to find out who I am, as we all are, and what I am. My work usually deals with society, how we fit in, the different extremities of an individual’s personality or identity. It is autobiographical,  I definitely will find difference in myself as a person in the before and after of completing the performance. But I’m not directly telling anybody anything about me personally. It’s almost very selfish, I’m just doing it for me, to find my own answers. I’m surprising myself, because I’ve never done anything like this before. I think it will stand up well with my other work. The audience can read into it as they want, but I’m taking something different out of it.

A concept of this kind is profoundly personal. What do you have to say to audiences who may be hesitant to engage themselves or for asking the “wrong” questions or feeling like they’re intruding?

You’re missing out on an experience. If we’re all here, it’s because we’re all intelligent people. Everyone is expressing themselves, and sometimes when you question things and begin being prudish, it ruins it. Why not just let yourself be present, embrace it, and find that you’ll have something to discuss after? My biggest fear is that when we do give out the cameras, no one will take pictures or doesn’t engage because they’re embarrassed – but maybe I need to believe in the audience more, but everyone who will be there is and will be there because they want to be present.

What is your ideal outcome for the evening? If there is one impact or thought you would like every individual present to take home, what would it be?

I just want people to realise that they’re experiencing something they have never experienced before. I want to affect the mind state, especially of people around here. In Shoreditch, everyone seems to be sort-of-edgy-but-not-edgy-at-all. I think this will encourage other people to push the boundaries, to create work that says something rather than just work to look at. It would be nice to know this event will come up in conversation, that people will make reference to that, even if it’s in just a few words. I’d hope everyone will react to it, in some way or another, but I really hope it will affect the way they’re thinking today.

(Above: Shake It And Wait by Danny Augustine)

The other two acts for the evening include:
 

ACT II: Katrine 
Marçal
Economics is about money and why it is good, but you’ve been swindled. By one of the most charismatic men in history. He is the main character in a myth about how the world works and which we have swallowed it whole. It’s time to change the story. It’s time to kill the man. Find out who he is and why you are exactly like him. Katrine Marçal is the lead editorial writer for the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, where she writes about Swedish and international politics, economics and feminism. Her book Who Cooked Adam Smiths Dinner? (Portobello 2015) is a takedown of 200 years of economics.

ACT III: Afshin Dehkordi

With recent “increased assertiveness in the Persian Gulf” and Iran’s Supreme Leader declaring that the US has simply spun a myth around the country’s nuclear threat, it’s difficult to know what’s behind the headlines. Afshin Dehkordi gave disposable cameras children in Iran so they could document their daily lives. Mixing their photos and illustrations from state-sponsored ideological textbooks, Dehkordi presents an inside view. Afshin Dehkordi was born in Iran in 1975. He studied Mathematics at University College London and Economics at Harvard. He has exhibited internationally, and cultivates his artistic practice alongside award- winning work for the BBC.

PROPAGANDA opens 27 May in Miranda Bar at the Ace Hotel Shoreditch.

Tickets: https://billetto.co.uk/local-transport-propaganda

Doors open at 7,  the First Act is live from 7.30pm.Each artist will perform for 15 minutes, for one hour of performances in total. After the third act, all guests are welcome to stay for drinks and a live DJ and dancing.