Jimmy Cauty: The Aftermath Dislocation Principle Riot Tour
Dystopian landscape housed in a shipping container feels like a warning out of Orwell but a certain satire can also be detected
Jimmy Cauty is never going to escape being known as one of the men who burned a million pounds – without doubt the most headline-grabbing of all the Dadaist art pranks perpetrated alongside Bill Drummond in art-pop-ambient axis The KLF – but why would he want to? Ever since, Cauty has borne the single ingredient which every artist hoping to be paid attention to would give a limb for; notoriety. And neither has his well of attention-demanding ideas dried up, as evidenced by this portable touring dystopia.
He's been working on it for some years now, and it was witnessed as part of Banksy's Dismaland, but this is the first time the Aftermath Dislocation Principle has been taken on tour. It's an incongruous yet strangely camouflaged presence in the midst of the Grassmarket, a heavily-graffitied shipping container with glass peepholes bored at random intervals. Late night revellers spot others peering in and stop to look, marvelling at the world within; a model village-style recreation of a dystopian near-future landscape, 40 feet in length, which appears to show a clean-up operation in full swing after the breakdown of society.
A motorway bridge in this imagined Bedfordshire has collapsed, and police blockade it against backed-up traffic; constables in high-vis patrol bombed-out high-rise estates, rinsing graffiti declaring 'REVOLUTION' and 'COMETH THE HOUR COMETH THE STATE' from walls which look distinctly East Berliner; pylons cut through the landscape; a sign signals the checkpoint into 'HM Children's Prison: Camp Delta'; forensic officers and emergency services prowl the woods. The scale and realistic vision of the thing is stunning.
In days when the insularity of social media bubbles tell us society is breaking down, the work feels like a warning out of Orwell – a vision of a world where only the authorities and terror exist, held in fearsome balance while the citizens cower behind the few curtains-drawn apartments left occupied. Yet, while Cauty's previous work has certainly not shied away from echoing themes of resistance, a certain satire might also be detected, if you're looking for it; here, the badness is contained and miniaturised, and outside the world goes on.
There are many views to take of the world, and all hope is only lost if you fixate in miniature upon that which is hopeless. But maybe that's wishful thinking; each stop on the tour is tied within the text to a nearby riot from history, so perhaps the message is that a spirit of nebulous resistance is inevitable and ongoing in Cauty's universe.
Seen at Grassmarket, Edinburgh; now at Platform, Glasgow, until Mon 14 Nov. Jimmy Cauty and Steve Lowe will discuss ADP at Platform, Glasgow, Thu 10 Nov.