The Jerwood/FVU Awards 2016: Borrowed Time commissioned new moving-image works by the selected artists Karen Kramer and Alice May Williams. Following an award of £20,000 to each artist, each developed a significant new film which premiered in an exhibition at Jerwood Space, London, from 9 March to 24 April 2016, followed by CCA, Glasgow, from 28 May to 10 July 2016.
The artists’ works respond in different ways to the theme of Borrowed Time, with its allusion to escalating levels of personal and national debt and a wider feeling of economic unease or ecological threat caused by our exploitation of natural resources and the impact it has on the environment. The more we look to keep ourselves afloat in the present by deferring the costs to the future, the more we are reminded of how unsustainable this is.
Both artists focussed their explorations of the theme on the legacy of power stations. While Williams spotlights the speculative urban development that is taking place in and around London’s Battersea Power Station, Kramer considers the landscape around the Fukushima nuclear reactor as a symbol of man’s complex interaction with the natural world. FVU has worked closely with the artists, overseeing the development of the films over the 10-month production period.
Curatorial brief: Borrowed Time
Our idea for the Awards has always been that their curatorial theme should both resonate with the post-student experience, and have meaning in the wider world. The student experience these days is one of ever-more-precious creative time secured from the everyday pressures of the world, usually through borrowed money and lingering debt. Borrowing against the future to keep things going in the present, but deferring the costs to tomorrow, has become a reflex and a habit that we see not just in the emblematic life of the student but throughout contemporary economic life, from the loans and mortgages of domestic realities to the sophisticated voodoo economics of financial derivatives.
The phrase ‘Borrowed Time’, with its wider political and social dimension, also has specificity for the moving-image medium. In its early days, though less so now, video was also referred to as a time-based medium; something real-time and immediate, but also durational and lasting; something time-rich, in many ways. What does the phrase 'time-based' mean now in an increasingly time-poor, ‘just-in-time’ culture, when people constantly complain of not having enough time to look at things properly, or having to steal time away to do this? And how does the word ‘borrow’ hold up, when the act of appropriation in art has been used so much that it too might be said to be in danger of being exhausted?
More information can be found at JerwoodFVUawards.com