Sunday, 15 February 2015

Keith K Hopewell Broken Systems In C Major

The Hoxton Gallery
16 Jan 2015

All photos: NoLionsInEngland
Videos: Keith K. Hopewell, NoLionsInEngland

This scribe’s ugly and wizened fizzog appears for a nanosecond in an artist’s video. Quite sufficient justification for a belated blog musing, a video clip and a video clip of the making of the video clip.

Keith K. Hopewell is many things, probably at the top of the list should be graffiti legend, a real old school pioneer of UK graff, one of the original style meisters from the days when graff first broke on UK shores on a tide of hip hop vids from the US. He is a music producer, he has oft bent these ears with plans of new music projects and releases of archived dance tunes. He is a conceptual artist, a conceptual street artist actually and when we use the word conceptual, we mean something that goes way beyond the colourful fractured paintings of the self styled graffuturist movement.

A few years back the streets saw Hopewell, operating under the graff moniker Part2ism, indulge in a form of fetishistic photorealism with gas mask wearing nudes and a wholly deconstructed CMYK colour scheme project.

Leake St, 2008


Photorealism? Yup.

Rammellzee RIP by Part2ism
Rammellzee RIP, Trellick, 2010

The latent tagger within might still occasionally come to the surface but when he painted the legendary Pit in Ladbroke Grove with a piece with no connection at all to any font based form of graffiti, there was a very uncomfortable shuffling among graffiti purists who recognised his contribution to the graffiti movement here in the UK but struggled to accept the presence of this “art” among the burners and tags of those hallowed but now lost walls.

The Pit, 2010

Of course, to disprove the doubters, Part2ism then slaps down a pure old school wildstyle burner, conceptualise that toys!

Part2ism: The Art Brutalist. The Pit, 2010. (View LARGE)

Banksy’s street art has been prone to many tags and spot jockeying daubs down the years but Part2ism augmentation of Banksy’s Ratapult shone, the simple addition of cross hair sights around the catapulted mouse and a supersonic fighter plane coming into attack was pure class.

Banksy - Ratapult
Part2ism vs Banksy, 2007

Earlier this year, Keith K. Hopewell (the K has become significant to different from a member of Lost Souls Crew also by chance bearing the same name) put on a conceptual multi media installation in the Hoxton Gallery under the title Broken Systems In C Major

The main barrel of this tunnel shaped brick lined railway arch space was given over to a video installation backed by a lo-fi droning pulsating soundtrack with a thumping industrial beat. The black and white video showed shapes skipping and flitting to the stuttering digital beat and was made by placing paint shavings from a hall of fame over a tight skin stretched over a speaker cone. Mesmerising, here Hopewell’s video of the agitated paint shavings, aka Broken Systems in C major, towards the end it morphs into actual footage capturing the experience of the gallery installations.

Video: Keith K Hopewell

Behind the screen was a newly constructed partitioned space with the entrance shrouded by a heavy curtain. Pushing through the curtain one entered a space with absolutely no light and an incredibly loud sound system, somewhere.

I had a phone with me, I tried a panning shot starting with the film in the first space then progressing through the curtain into the second space. The result was hysterical, sorry, laughable. There wasn't any light in the second space so nothing to film, you just hear the droning scuzzy soundtrack, the occasional grunt as contact is made with some obstruction or other in that darkened space and the occasional giggle of other explorers of the void. Here is a fragment of the film of the first part of the installation (whose “making of” was captured momentarily in Hopewell’s video)


In that second space, the key sensation wasn’t so much about the pulsating noise as the uncertainty induced by the sensory deprivation. There was no telling how big the space was, one’s gut feel was to assume it was quite large, like the kind of space they show installation films in large institutional galleries, you know, you go in, there’s a bizarre disjointed film and it doesn’t matter what point you arrive at as there is no linearity as such but seating such as there is is provided by two rows of the kind of bench your school had in the gym. That would be wrong. It seemed like just a couple of paces brought your face up against another boundary in the room. Then you wondered how the giggling sounded so far away, or was it just very soft and actually right next to your ear. Then as someone else walked through the curtain you realised they would be walking like an Egyptian mummy in Scooby Do with their hands out in front and they also had no idea that you were only a foot away. Blind fold dodgems played inside a kettle drum. There is no way to document the appearance or sensation of being in that room, you could only take away the memory.

It was great fun, at different times soothing and panic inducing, sometimes both at the same time!  It was exciting to attend an opening where total engagement with the art was forced upon you, no sicial chit chat with a vague awareness of art on the walls, you had no choice but to concentrate!  Hopewell is an incredibly adventurous and experimental artist and his work always impresses me with its variety and intelligence. It’s a long way from a bit of chrome on a public wall that’s for sure.

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