David Cotterrell
David Cotterrell   truth.lie.lie
David Cotterrell

David Cotterrell, Groupthink, 2019, giclée print on aluminium, 45.9cm x 45.9cm  

Private view: Friday 13 September  6 - 9pm
14 September - 12 October 2019

For his sixth solo exhibition at the gallery, David Cotterrell presents a selection of recent and new works considering the mediation of evidence. Installations devised in eclectic contexts in collaboration with artists, actors and news agencies are brought together within one exhibition to consider common threads of media scepticism, narrative betrayal and structural prejudice.

At a time of deep uncertainty and eroded confidence in local and global politics, Cotterrell has continued his long-term collaboration with Sri Lankan playwright, Ruwanthie de Chickera to create a range of speculative investigations into the mediation of truth.

Mirror IV: Legacy (2018) explores the dynamics of inherited memories of violence through the performances of six young Rwandan actors who belong to the post-Genocide generation. Three of the six actors are told that their character’s father was a victim of the Genocide. The remaining three actors are told that their character’s father was a perpetrator. They were not aware what the other actors had been told. When watching these performances, we question if it is possible to distinguish between the actors playing the children of victims and the children of perpetrators, in turn raising questions of memory, empathy and intergenerational storytelling.

Reverse Images: Brexit (2019) considers the evolving meaning of evidence. The installation involves the presentation of one of Getty Images’ most syndicated images of the polarising referendum campaign - the image of Boris Johnson speaking in front of his pledge, promise or aspiration to return £350M per week from the EU to the NHS. The exhibit features extracts from over 100 articles that claimed the same image as their evidence for diverse and divergent editorial comment. The continuous referencing and recontextualization of this image has reflected the anguish and anger of a contemporary struggle for truth. The exhibition provides an audio snapshot of a Machiavellian narrative of manipulation and populism.

Strong and Stable (2019) is a series of prints of the images captured by Getty Image photographers of three iterations of the UK’s Prime Ministers (Cameron, May and Johnson) making speeches outside 10 Downing Street. By placing these images side by side, we see that the position of the Getty Image photographer is always the same. The interchangeability of these images plays into the way in which each of these candidates had simultaneously endorsed each other and evaded their individual responsibility.

Groupthink (2019) is a photomontage of headshots. The work combines every angle necessary to reconfigure a three-dimensional version of the actor. This potential for the removal of a subject from their context and their non-consensual reformation invokes anxieties about the manipulation of the context of speech and identity.

Mirror V: Translation (2019) is the latest of the Mirror installations (2015-present). It offers an experiment in partial translation. Two Sinhala monologues, filmed in Sri Lanka, are presented consecutively in the gallery. The ambient noise of Colombo and the original voices of the actors is audible. Orientated around the space, ultrasonic speakers create zones of sound which present a translated narrative to the viewer. Three similar but distinct translations are available to recontextualise the direct-to-camera monologues. Through error, omission and interpretation, the installation focusses on the subjectivity of translation, the power to objectify and our ability to perceive threat.

David Cotterrell is an installation artist working across media and technologies to explore the social and political tendencies of a world at once shared and divided. The practice is typified by an interest in intersection: whether fleeting encounter or heavily orchestrated event, Cotterrell’s works explore the human condition and the breaks or nuances that can lead to a less ambiguous understanding of the world they inhabit.

Encapsulating the roles of programmer, producer and director, Cotterrell works to develop projects that can embrace the quiet spaces that are the sites for action, which might (or might not) be clearly understood in the future. For the past few years, Cotterrell and his collaborator Ruwanthie de Chickera have been embarking on an eclectic series of field trips and the production of a range of experimental artworks to clarify their experience and understanding of fear, risk and empathetic failure.

Cotterrell’s work has been commissioned and shown extensively in Europe, the United States and Asia. He is Research Professor of Fine Art at Sheffield Hallam University. His work appears in several collections including Imperial War Museum, London and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.


Mirror IV: Legacy

Actors: Eric Nagangare, Umuhire Eliane, Kayigi Fred Andy, Perle Divine Isimbi, Ines Ruhamya Nathan and Amanzi Ndoli Yannick Nicholas
Production Coordinator: Innocent Munyashuri
Production: Piumi Wijesundara, Prauda Buwaneka, Pramila Wimarshana, Sanjeewa Upendra, Akalanka Prabharshana, Duminda Sandaruwan and Indika Lakmal
Artists: David Cotterrell and Ruwanthie de Chickera

Mirror V: Translation

Camera: Pramila Samarakoon
Art Lighting and Production: Prauda Buwaneka
Script: Ruwanthie de Chickera
Actors: Nadie Kammallaweera, Akalanka Prabashwara
Voice Actors: Hiran Mihindu, Piyumi Samaraweera
Artists: David Cotterrell and Ruwanthie de Chickera

Reverse Images: Brexit

Voice Actors: Emily Kate Dixon, Manwah Siu, Simon Kunz, Caroline Loncq, Vaughan Smith, Kimberly Reczek