Read Emily Watkins on the Reverse-Panopticon Drawing Class in Plinth magazine
Artists Ric Bower, Nástio Mosquito and Kelly Schacht present a multifaceted alternative vision for how the fictitious nation of Botrovia might use aesthetic visual experience as a vehicle for disclosing truth, within the nation’s complex socio-political context.
The artists’ arenas of aesthetic enquiry extend from Western academic drawing processes, through to tattooing and quasi-scientific techniques that employ aesthetic gesture for a pragmatic purpose, such as the Rorschach Test. They invite their audience into a world where creative expression is just another method of societal control, and where soft power activities, such as drawing and tattooing, assume hard power roles.
The work manifests in multiple forms as the project progresses: Firstly there is a drawing class (directed by Fagot Koroviev (Ric Bower), the Minister of Security for Botrovia): then the Leader of Botrovia, A.L. Moore (Nástio Mosquito), delivers a personal recorded monologue, a performance for one, directly into the sound system of the Tactic δ:ASPM1b Enlightenment Hood worn by the drawing class model. The class model will sing a confessional song, under direction of A.L. Moore before receiving a tattoo from Koroviev, a mark of their engagement with the work. Meanwhile individuals from the Cardiff-based Iranian and Afghan refugee and asylum seeker communities, acting as the Botrovian Revolutionary Guard, administer Botrovian Truth Serum (vodka) to the drawing students and ensuring they fill out all the necessary Botrovian paperwork.
With special thanks to:
The University of Portsmouth &
Cardiff Metropolitan University
The project is supported by Arts Council Wales Lottery funding:
The Reverse-Panopticon, a brief introduction to AEI (Aesthetically Enhanced Interrogation)
an artwork by
Ric Bower, Nástio Mosquito & Kelly Schacht
with special guests: Tom Clulee, Rhiannon Lowe & Steve Chivalry
At ArcadeCampfa from July19th 2019 until 24th August.
‘This exhibition was genuinely confrontational. I have worked with refugees for the past ten years, and in that decade have seen many so-called community art projects aimed at the topic of seeking asylum... they tend to obsess over the experience of migration and travel; these projects purport to empathise, but the creative directors enter the project with fixed narratives about migration and, knowingly or not, they enjoy the power imbalance inherent in nationalism between the citizen and the non-citizen. This exhibition subverted the usual power balance we enjoy as an audience for art and as citizens. The raw, emotional punch came from its subversion of the UK Home Office interview.
I think this is what a collaborative effort really looks like, it was probably the first piece of art involving asylum seekers I have seen that wasn’t condescending’
Hugh Marwick, Asylum Lawyer for Migrant Legal Project