Millennium Gallery

Phil Collins, Susan Hiller, Haroon Mirza, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Kateřina Šedá, Jo Spence, Imogen Stidworthy & Katarina Zdjelar. One of Ruth Ewan’s six collectable postcards was also available to collect from this venue.

Click here to see images of the work in situ (link to

Click here to watch the video podcast for the Millennium Gallery, which shows the work in situ and features Art Sheffield’s co-curator Frederique Bergholtz talking about Wendelien van Oldenborgh’s Après la reprise, la prise.

Imogen Stidworthy
Barrabackslarrabang, 2009-10

In this film Imogen Stidworthy interweaves standard and subverted English (backslang) with tropes of class and race, trade and desire in the hidden backwaters and idealised forms of the voice.

Backslang developed as a linguistic disguise to protect speakers, especially from the ears of the law. Liverpool slang has absorbed fragments from the language streams of global trade, passing through the docks: Spanish, Dutch, Yiddish, Chinese and African languages.

Like all languages Backslang is also a space of identification, spoken proudly. It could be seen as a sign of economic and social conditions and as a form of resistance - a necessity, or a possibility for different social paradigms. In Barrabackslarrabang, the voice criss-crosses social borders to reflect the mirroring of structures and desires through ostensibly opposing spaces of language, legality and culture. The work continues Stidworthy’s ongoing concern with the social landscape of the voice, its space and borders.

Born 1963, London, UK
Lives in Liverpool, UK

Image Credit: Barrabackslarrabang, Imogen Stidworthy, 2009. Coutesy Akinci Gallery, Amsterdam

Jo Spence
Various poster works, 1979 - 1995

Jo Spence pioneered a range of photographic practices from work on self-image and the family album to the uses of photography as a therapeutic and political tool. She believed that everyday life is the fundamental source of all meaningful art ‚ that photography is a tool that can be used by everyone in any situation for self-knowledge, personal growth and above all for social criticism. In insisting that we should consider the politics of hidden and personal suffering as suitable subjects for public presentation, she helped put important health and illness issues firmly in the public domain.

The works exhibited included posters and documentation from the many collectives she helped establish - Photography Workshop, Half Moon, Camerawork magazine, the Hackney Flashers and the Polysnappers as well as a number of publications, such as Spare Rib magazine, which frame her socially engaged practice.

Born in 1934, London, UK
Died 1992

Image credit: Various poster works, 1979 - 1995, Jo Spence. Courtesy Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow & Terry Dennett

Wendelien van Oldenborgh
Après la reprise, la prise, 2009

This recent project takes as its point of departure, the conditions of work and more specifically the changing nature of these, which is having its effect on the contemporary ’self’. The artist combines three at first sight diverging themes: manual labour, women and production of culture. The piece is made in collaboration with two women who were former assembly line workers of one of the Levi’s jeans factories in Belgium which closed in 1998, leaving all of its (female) workers unemployed. Many of them had spent their whole working life - from a young age - with Levi’s. A group of these women had found new roles as actresses after putting forward their experience in a theatre production. For this slide piece they share their story with students of the Royal Technical Atheneum Mechelen, Belgium.

Born in 1962, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Lives in Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Image credit: Après la reprise, la prise, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, 2009. Courtesy Wilfried Lentz, Rotterdam

Haroon Mirza
An_Infinato, 2009

In his work Haroon Mirza attempts to isolate the distinctions between noise, sound and music and explores the possibility of the visual and acoustic as one perceptual mode. These ideas are examined through the production of assemblages and sculptural installations made from furniture, household electronics and found or constructed video footage combined to generate audio compositions that flirt with the idea of being music. The subject matter of his work pivots around socio-cultural systems such as religious faith or club culture and their relationship with music.

This installation incorporates existing work by other artists (unedited video rushes from Memory Bucket, 2003 by Jeremy Deller and damaged off-cuts from Guy Sherwin’s 16mm film Cycles #1 1972/77, both by permission of the artists) and explores an ongoing interest in sound spillage.

Born in 1977, London, UK
Lives in Sheffield, UK

Image Credit: An_Infinato, Haroon Mirza, 2009

Phil Collins
hero, 2002

Phil Collins’ video hero turns tables on a New York journalist who, like so many other ‘lifestyle’ columnists, found himself having to cover the reality of the lives of those caught in the aftermath of 9/11. Every so often Collins’ arm enters the frame with a mug of whisky, from which the genial hack is obliged to drink, like some terrible reality TV forfeit or an endurance piece of performance art. In the background we can intermittently hear an instrumental version of the Mariah Carey 9/11 hit Hero. Oddly, what begins as an inchoate ramble becomes more cogent as the video proceeds, since segments of the footage have been reassembled in reverse order. In hero the techniques commonly used by the media to manipulate interviewees and viewers becomes the work’s content, along with the journalist’s soliloquy: the off-screen loosening of an interviewee’s tongue with alcohol, the colouring of the sentiments of a story through soundtrack and the strategic distortion of a sequence of events through the editing process.

Born in 1970, Runcorn, UK.
Lives in Berlin, Germany

Text by Alex Farquharson
Image credit: hero, Phil Collins, 2002

Katarina Zdjelar
Shoum, 2009

Katarina Zdjelar’s practice consists of making video, sound and text pieces, performances, book projects and creating different platforms for speculation, knowledge building and exchange. Her work explores notions of identity, authority and community and revolves around individuals who, challenged by simultaneous inhabitation of different languages, perform themselves through practicing, remembering or reinventing themselves.

The video piece Shoum focuses on an act of translating one‚’s experience of listening into uttering. A young man in his mid 30s from Belgrade is writing down and learning the lyrics of Shout, a song by Tears for Fears. The mishearings that often happen when one just hears a song without reading the lyrics are compounded by issues of mistranslation from the original language - English, in this case - which creates a kind of new phonetic language. Finally he performs the song in this new language, in which original words take different ’shapes’, as the title of the piece Shoum (which is the way he hears the word Shout) suggests.

Born in 1979, Belgrade, former Yugoslavia
Lives in Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Image credit: Shoum, Katarina Zdjelar, 2009

Susan Hiller
Dedicated to the Unknown Artists, 1972-76

Dedicated to the Unknown Artists is an installation of 305 postcards showing coastal views of rough seas presented alongside charts and notes documenting the difference between the visual representation of the  ’rough seas’ and the written descriptions of them.

The work employs but also undermines an anthropological approach to materials. The exhaustive logging and organising of material (the cards’ location, caption, message) threatens to be swamped by the sheer amount of subject matter. It uses a minimalist and conceptualist format of grids and charts but deals with popular imagery  - visually beautiful views of perfect storms bombarding Britain‚Äôs coastline (also a self-reflexive joke on the British love of bad weather). At the time of its production Hiller was accused of inappropriately bringing elements of kitsch, the sentimental and the Romantic into a pure conceptual form which dealt with control and rationality. Hiller talks about the potential for classic conceptual work to be ‘flat - there’s no affect, it doesn’t introduce any contradictions’. This work marries the contradictions of the conceptual and the emotional, allowing space for the minute differentiations of a multitude of unknown artists’ work to be brought to light.

Born in 1940, Tallahassee, USA
Lives in London, UK

Image credit: Dedicated to the Unknown Artists, Susan Hiller, 1972-76. Courtesy of Timothy Taylor Gallery, London

Kateřina Šedá
Der Geist von Uhyst (The Spirit of Uhyst), 2009

Kateřina Šedá’s work uses performance, staged activities and public interventions to reactivate communities and create social interaction. For Der Geist von Uhyst (The Spirit of Uhyst), Šedá worked with people from the village of Uhyst in northern Germany to discover and capture its essence and inner energy. Šedá sees this spirit as something which is shaped and affected by all of its residents, but which tends to be elusive.

Šedá asked each villager to use a single line to depict that which he or she regarded as being special about Uhyst. The result is a large-scale collective drawing, an accumulation of all of these individual lines, signed by all contributors. By examining community rituals and behaviour, geography and landscape, Šedá uncovers Uhyst’s complex history and generates a sense of belonging.

Born in 1977, Brno, Czech Republic
Lives in Prague, Czech Republic

Šedá will be creating new work for the city’s Visual Art collection, as part of the Contemporary Art Society’s inaugural Commissioning to Collect annual award. Her work on the commission will start during Art Sheffield 2010.

Image credit: Der Geist von Uhyst (The Spirit of Uhyst), Kateřina Šedá,  2009. Photograph: Michal Hladik

At Site & Collectable postcards available free at each venue:

Ruth Ewan
Moderately Wrathful, 2010

Through manipulated or redirected situations Ruth Ewan’s projects bring lesser-known histories back into circulation. Working with print, performance and installation she examines the ways in which individuals and groups have utilised creative forms in an attempt to redefine their world.

Developed for Art Sheffield 2010 - Life: A User’s Manual, drawing on Sheffield’s radical history, Moderately Wrathful consists of a series of images distributed via all Art Sheffield venues. In a pamphlet published by Sheffield’s Holberry Society, a man called Sam Holmes describes how, at the age of 14, upon becoming a builder’s apprentice, he was presented with a copy of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (1914) by Robert Tressell (1870-1911). Holmes refers to the giving of this particular novel as a common gesture towards new apprentices, not only as a welcoming gift but also a handbook of sorts. Referencing the work of Robert Tressell, Moderately Wrathfulcombines images and text, cross referencing polemic extracts from Tressell’s novel, with several lesser-known drawings by the author of early aircrafts and hot air balloons.

Born in1980, Aberdeen, Scotland.
Lives in London, UK

Supported by the Yorkshire Artspace Residency Programme
Image credit: Fire Balloon, Robert Tressell, 1902, Courtesy The Robert Tressell Family Papers

Video Podcast for Millennium Gallery