Exhibition | Ben Turnbull: American History X volume III, Manifest Decimation | Contemporary Art at Bermondsey Project Space | London | Art Week

Ben Turnbull: American History X volume III, Manifest Decimation

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Tuesday, 15 October 2019 to Saturday, 2 November 2019
Wednesday, 16 October 2019 -
6:00pm to 9:00pm

Bermondsey Project Space is delighted to present an exhibition of works by the acclaimed artist Ben Turnbull. Entitled American History X volume III, Manifest Decimation, the show is the artist’s first since his highly-acclaimed Saatchi Gallery presentation in 2017 and extends Turnbull’s ongoing exploration of American political and social culture.

Comprised of seven large-scale collages executed in his trademark style using cut-outs from vintage American comics, the works examine the history of the ‘Indian Removal Act’ and the concept of ‘Manifest Destiny’, a belief which led to a cultural genocide of native Americans.

Manifest Decimation is a revisionist take on the mythology of how the west was won. Using cut-outs of Western comics and pulp novels – the type that showed ruthless colonisers as a necessary force for civilisation – Turnbull spins it around and makes the Indians the victors, the cowboys the vanquished.

The centrepiece of the show is a re-imagining of Mount Rushmore with Native Americans now centre stage, and, on closer inspection, the surrounding terrain is a vast battleground of comic book Cowboys and Indians.

The exhibition is the third in an ongoing series, following American History X volume II, Smells Like Teen Spirit and American History X volume I, The Death of America, 2013.

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Ben Turnbull (b. 1974) has, since his first exhibition in 2002, created a compelling body of work that draws its inspiration from American culture and politics. He is best known for his collages, however he also has produced sculptural works, most notably his I don’t like Mondays series (2008), which featured various weapons carved into school desks, a wry commentary on gun massacres in U.S. schools.

America and Americana are a staple of his work – he has visited the country many times. In the various series it has inspired, a fierce critique of U.S culture is witnessed, in particular its politics, but also an affection and fascination which began from his boyhood when he was, like many of his generation, brought up on a diet of American TV programmes. This style has been dubbed ‘angry pop’, an allusion to its power and harnessing of Pop Art sensibilities.

Turnbull has exhibited with a number of galleries, including two with Lazarides, the gallerist best known for his early championing of graffiti art and in particular his association with Banksy. He has also had a retrospective at Lancaster Institute for Contemporary Art (2012), and more recently a solo show at Saatchi Gallery (2017).

Turnbull did not attend art school. His early adult life was spent as a fabricator – he ran his own business, and, amongst other projects, he helped create interiors of some of the most iconic London restaurants of the 1990s. This ability to ‘make things’ himself, unique amongst artists, is reflected in the exacting production of all his work.

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Image: How The West Was Won, It’s A Lie But It’s Made To Sound Like Fun, 2018, comics on wood, 85 cm x 126 cm © The artist

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183-185 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3UW

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