Mediated crowds, contested spaces; Works on paper 2012-15
Multiple ink and pencil drawings reproduce contemporary media photographs of protesting crowds. Each crowd is situated within a built environment. Figurative works are grouped with compositions abstracted from the crowd scenes to suggest decentred, troubled spaces.
These are the latest of a series of works exploring visual representations of mass urban protest, beginning with the Arab Risings, anti-war demonstrations and the ‘Occupy’ movement, as well as mass actions in European cities, the Ukraine and most recently, inner-city USA.
The indeterminate, often violent fates of these contemporary expressions of popular democracy raise fundamental questions about how we view them and the power of mediation and representation. In these drawings, hundreds of tiny brushstrokes represent individuals already visually aggregated as a crowd, pixelated, abstracted and framed by photojournalists, selected and interpreted by editors and digitally disseminated.
Through repetitive visual description, Gerrard foreground’s discomforting tensions between witnessing and participation, spectacle and event, and her own artistic practice. The project is constantly developing. In early 2015 each day brings new protests and new images. Each marks an insistently questioning of the relation between the mediation of urban crowds; how their meanings are contested locally and globally; and the hopes, fears and aspirations of those who protest. As such, these images seek an optic through which a wider world of protracted conflict, global economic uncertainty and social division comes in to view.