Nestled in the housing projects of Hackney, lies a small contemporary art gallery – Waterside Contemporary. Amongst the convenient stores and laundromats, it would seem like an odd area to have a gallery space. But these small hidden gems in London, are what make London such a unique, adventurous city. The gallery might seem tiny and out of place, but it is what is inside the gallery that is grandiose and thought provoking.
“The Freestone Drone” (2nd February running until 23rd March), a video installation by George Barber transforms the gallery into an environment mimicking the places that US drones might blow up. This description needs further explanation – don’t you think?
It is no secret that during the presidency of Barack Obama, drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) have mushroomed and been used more and more. These military devices are tools that are deployed to areas of “concern” for the United States, and attack and bomb areas with exact precision in order to eliminate any “threats”. Now these drones are meant to destroy locations of concern, but how precise are these drones? They are machines with no emotion or feeling. They are created to destroy without knowing the consequences of their actions. Do they know right from wrong?
George Barber brings these issues to light with his video installation. Clothing lines hung with clothes to dry surround the screening area. The room is dark and the video consists of a narrative, narrated by a drone itself. This drone has emotion and feelings, and through his mission of destruction, he tells the story of his journey – thus the drone becomes personified.
He is curious as to what all these clothes lines are…who owns these clothes…what kinds of lives do these families lead? These clothes lines in themselves tell stories of different families – a family with three children, an old woman washing her husbands clothes, a newly wed couple… Footage shot different places around the world, that of lovers, and depictions of tragedy are paralleled with the drone’s childlike curiosities of the world- his fascination and love of people as well as his ultimate destiny: “It is foretold that the Freestone Drone is to die entangled in a clothes line.” With such a dramatic, dark narrative, the drone seems childlike and humorous. These private thoughts create tension and an unsettling feeling within viewer. He is playful and funny in his description, but his mission is one of great determent and horror. You laugh, but you do not want to at the same time. This tension develops a platform for the viewer to question these contemporary ethical dilemas.
Have we become so cold that we cannot even carry out our own evils and atrocities? Barber confronts our cowardness and attempts to display the contemporary and ethical concerns of what we are doing. It is a must see in London. So get your running shoes on, locate the gallery on your smartphone – trust us, you will def need it, and head on over.
Peace Out, K.