The hard-luck stories and heart-rending pleas of Thomson & Craighead’s More Songs of Innocence and of Experience have been lifted from examples of that contemporary symbol of mounting junk, the spam email. Taking their place in a long and inglorious history of scams and schemes, these overwrought appeals to the kindness of strangers prey on people’s credulity but often induce a feeling of indifference or cynicism. Unreeling like a karaoke autocue, to an electronic soundtrack with all the cheap pathos of an old-fashioned musical box, Thomson & Craighead’s reworking of this material prompts us to look again at these lurking presences in our day-to-day lives, and their wider significance as a record, and indictment, of our time. Parading a back-story as pitiable and poignant as any beggar on the Victorian streets, More Songs of Innocence and of Experience serves to remind us how, even as technology continues to ring the changes, human nature has remained pretty much the same.
Whitechapel Gallery: 29 January - 15 May 2016
Carroll Fletcher: 24 May - 13 July 2013
Commissioned by FVU in association with Turner Contemporary, Margate, Aspex Gallery, Portsmouth, and Jerwood Space, London with support from Jerwood Arts. FVU is supported by Arts Council England.