Mikhail Karikis' No Ordinary Protest premieres in his solo exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery.
The work takes its cue from Ted Hughes’ short story The Iron Woman, in which children become privy to a terrifying sound, recognised by them as a collective howl of anguish emitted by creatures living in the fields and rivers. Roused into action by this distress call to which adults have turned a deaf ear, a group of youngsters converge on a local factory that has been a major source of pollution in the area. Angered by the complacency and complicity of their elders, the children take matters into their own hands, confronting the workers at the factory and demanding immediate action against the impending ecological catastrophe.
In Mikhail Karikis’ short video, a class of seven-year-olds from an East London school, who have been studying and discussing the story in their lessons, wonder what they might do in similar circumstances. Combining sound, experiments, performance and unscripted debates, the resulting collaborative scenes oscillate between the real and imagined, evoking the irresistible power of collective action.
A commissioned essay on the work, written by sound artist and academic Cathy Lane, is available to read online here.