Alfie Strong at David Dale Gallery

Artist: Alfie Strong

Exhibition title: Spurt Burnt Off The Features. “Master, The Sun Has Gone”

Venue: David Dale Gallery, Glasgow, UK

Date: March 8 – May 15, 2021

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and David Dale Gallery, Glasgow

As you peer virtually into the space, as you gaze into the abyss, you see a dystopian landscape; sediment, sludge, faces, distortions. You hear a polluted, deviated, grotesque voice play softly in the background.

We are not there. This is the slow abandonment of our world to come.

The rise of the industrial revolution is widely critiqued as the catalyst to our current ecological crisis. Pollution of air, land and water through excessive deforestation, industrialisation and overfilling landfills adding to greenhouse gas emissions are all topmost causes of these environmental issues. Environmental issues that are largely caused in the West, who have had little to no experience of disasters felt in the Global South as a result of the changing environment. Crisis caused by abiotic factors, biodiversity extinction and overpopulation.

The problem we have with ‘the environment’ is we think we’re in control of it, until it reminds us we’re not. That’s reflected in our response to the crisis too. Language surrounding the environmental crisis has become fetishised, ever since activists hung ‘WE’RE FUCKED’ on a banner off Westminster bridge back in 2018. The strange phrase manages to connect extinction and sexual gratification.

We are at once dominant to the earth, yet submissive to its consequences. We hoe and dig and impale and shaft and overpopulate and encroach in our environment. And yet we are chastised, chained, collared, on our knees.  We need to explore how not to “be fucked.”

Is this an act of exhibitionism? Are we the sadists or the masochists? Do we desire to be punished? Are we doomed?

We are now acutely aware everything is a limited resource and not an ouroboric state – the ouroboros eats its own tail to sustain its life, in an eternal cycle of renewal. Our continued survival is destabilised, not infinite. Environmental anxiety and eros surrounds us.

– Helena Kate Whittingham