Opening: November 11, 2015, 5 pm
100 thousand blows takes as its starting point the increasingly frequent series of violent police raids carried out under “Code-Action 100”; a name for police actions supposedly used for tracking down individuals thought to be escaping justice, or items believed to have been obtained by criminal means or used for carrying out criminal acts. The discriminatory invocation of the code for targeting Roma is the latest in a long tradition of violence against Europe’s largest minority and continues a culture of state sanctioned racism that often remains unchallenged. Left to its own devices, institutional violence damages not just those currently targeted but also society at large.
The 100 thousand blows installation comprises a rug that carries a stylised geographical map of Europe surrounded by a number of wicker carpet beaters; far too many for the job in hand. The artefacts employed in the installation act as intersections between the realms of the domestic, the economic and the political by drawing upon a number of visual and discursive registers, namely; function and ornament, purity and deviance, violence and justice.
The rug with its colourful patterning brings to mind the traditional and still popular Roma occupation of carpet trading whilst the appealingly willowy arabesques of the carpet beaters draw upon the fundamental preoccupations of the Roma aesthetic; those of artistry and functionality. But even while we consider the formal qualities of these objects in their close tranquil proximity we are yet drawn inescapably to their intended endgame; the pursuit of purification through violent action; a fictive illusion that continues to erode the very fabric of European society through often tacit but invariably brutal Roma-phobic aggression.
Daniel Baker is an artist, curator and theorist. A Romani Gypsy born in Kent, he holds a PhD on the subject of Gypsy aesthetics from the Royal College of Art, London. Baker acted as exhibitor and advisor to the first and second Roma Pavilions; “Paradise Lost” and “Call the Witness” at the 52nd and 54th Venice Biennales respectively. Baker’s work examines the role of art in the enactment of social agency. His publications include “We Roma: A Critical Reader in Contemporary art” 2013 and “Ex Libris” 2009. Baker’s work is exhibited internationally and can be found in collections across Europe, America, and Asia. Former Chair of the Gypsy Council (2006-9), Baker currently lives and works in London, UK.
Recent solo exhibitions include; ‘Makeshifting: Structures of Mobility’ at The Cardiff Museum and Art Central Barry, Wales, UK, 2015, and ‘Dark Glass’ at Galerie Kai Dikhas, Berlin, Germany, 2015. Recent group projects include: ‘When the Oil Runs Out, People Will Need Horses’, as part of the Kakka Collective’s research initiative ‘Performing Romani Identities: Strategy and Critique’ (PRISaC), Autograph, Rivington Place, London, UK, and ‘Practices and Notions of the Migrant Image’, Valand Academy, Gothenburg, Sweden, 2015.
Opening remarks by Marek Szilvási.