Museum of Non-Participation
14 October 2014

Hayward Gallery

MIRRORCITY explores the effect the digital revolution has had on our experiences. 
London is one of the worlds centres for contemporary art. MIRRORCITY shows recent work and new commissions by key emerging and established artists working in the capital today, who seek to address the challenges, conditions and consequences of living in a digital age.

JG Ballard believed that reality had already exceeded the visions conjured by science fiction by the end of the 20th century. Drawing on the digital era we now live in, the artists in MIRRORCITY respond to and address this new perception of the world.

Artists have always created alternative realities but recently they have been exploring where the digital and the physical space crossover and fold into each other. The exhibition considers questions specific to our time such as: How can we navigate the space between the digital and the physical? and What is the effect of advanced technologies on our lives?

The engagement, innovation and complexity of the works selected for MIRRORCITY also directly or indirectly reflect the multi-faceted character of London itself.

Artists Presenting artworks in a wide variety of media including painting, film and video, sculpture, drawing, sound and performance, artists in the exhibition are:
Mohammed Qasim Ashfaq, Anne Hardy, Ursula Mayer, Katrina Palmer, Laure Prouvost, Hannah Sawtell, Lindsay Seers, John Stezaker and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.

New works in MIRRORCITY are by Emma McNally, Helen Marten, Daniel Sinsel, Susan Hiller and Michael Dean. New commissions are by LuckyPDF, Karen Mirza and Brad Butler, Tim Etchells, Lloyd Corporation, Pil and Galia Kollectiv, Aura Satz, Tai Shani and Volumes Project.

A specially produced alternative newspaper has been created by Tom McCarthy for MIRRORCITY. The project was conceived as a collaboration between the author and the artists featured in the exhibition. Artists have contributed a diverse and distinctive array of texts and pictures that McCarthy has edited into an otherworldly reading experience.

MIRRORCITY is curated by Stephanie Rosenthal, Chief Curator, Hayward Gallery.

Brad Butler / Permalink
12 June 2014
The Unreliable Narrator

12 June to 9 August 2014
Private view Wednesday, 11 June 2014, 6-9pm

waterside contemporary is pleased to present The Unreliable Narrator, an exhibition of new installation and video works by Karen Mirza and Brad Butler developed especially for the gallery.

You are the Prime Minister, a prominent neon work in the window of the gallery becomes an empowering invitation to take up the title role in a fantasy fiction. It is soon revealed to be misleading: the statement belongs to a larger piece from a scholarship exam for thirteen years-old boys entering Eton College, an elite school that trained 19 of the Britains Prime Ministers and 12 members of the current Government.

A video installation Terror Tapes narrates the 2008 Mumbai attacks, alternately from a position of the terrorists and of a seemingly impartial commentator. The video sourced from CCTV recordings of the siege, together with telephone conversations between the attackers and their controllers, suggest that the event was performed for the benefit of news cameras: this is just a trailer, the main feature is yet to come.

In the exhibition, Mirza and Butler expose the existence of an Unreliable Narrator who takes advantage of the gap between fiction and reality. We may imagine that in the street and at the gallery alike, we are tacitly comfortable with our own classic roles as actors and audiences. Making visible the self-propagating assemblies of circumstances, references and implications, the artists force a reconsideration of the mandate and power of the narrator, whether he, she or it is explicitly identified or merely implicit.

And so, in the Prime Ministers Question, the thirteen year-old candidate is required to argue for the necessary and moral use of military force against civilian protesters, at his command. In Mumbai, the terrorists play into the hands of Bollywood filmmakers, who rush to register epic film titles even before the siege is lifted.

Stories slip between construction, rhetoric and reality with implausible ease: language itself appears to create and propagate the conditions of authority, violence, and division. As the Narrator continues to hijack the rhetoric of cultural and political discourse to rupture, Mirza and Butler expose the absurd ventriloquist act.

Brad Butler / Permalink
15 January 2014
The Commitee

Brad Butler / Permalink
30 September 2013
The Guest of Citation

Are you an artist with a foot in activism, a community organizer, or a small business owner?
Are you someone who questions the status quo?
Are you interested in uncovering structures of power and exclusion?
Are you the exception and the rule?

A commission for Performa 13 by the Museum of Arts and Design

This fall, the Museum of Arts and Design has commissioned London-based artists Karen Mirza and Brad Butler to present The Museum of Non Participation: The Guest of a Citation an installment of the artists fictional museum and ongoing body of work that confronts (non) participation and the socio-political in art works, in conjunction with Cheat Out to the Audience: Risk & Reward 2013. For this presentation of the project, Mirza and Butler are inviting local residents to workshop and stage one of Bertolt Brechts short learning plays The Exception and the Rule. The rule implies a legal language or a directive, while the exception evokes being ungovernable or searching for an alternative to either the state or the free market. Together, they act as both a statement, that the rule cannot exist without the exception, and a question, as to what a state of exception might be. Through the story of a merchant and his servant, The Exception and the Rule explores themes of capitalism and economics, labor and hierarchy, legislation and state ideology, hiding and secrecy, and the lack of union rights. The artists invite you to eat, talk, rehearse, and perform together in order to explore and enact how these themes play out in our daily lives, as well as to consider how these can be extended to the audience as active participants.

The Exception and the Rule is one of Brechts several Lehrstucke or teaching plays. Brecht himself translated the term as learning play intended to educate people primarily about socialist politics. Typically, this form of political theater privileges function above content and foregrounds collective teaching and learning through various modes of performance. It attempts to break down any division between author and audience through reflexive gestures that reveal the mechanics of theater. Through this and other plays, Brecht developed a way for non actors to learn through playing roles, adopting postures, getting rid of the divide between actors and audience, and focusing on process rather than a final project.

Working in the same vein, Mirza and Butler encourage you to enter into the project with the spirit of mutual enrichment and collaboration, where personal experiences/expertise and collective interpretation ultimately converge in the public presentation of the play.

Dates and Times
Monday November 11, 3pm to 10pm
Tuesday November 12, 3pm - 10pm
Saturday November 16 10am  to 5pm
Sunday November 17 10am - 5pm
Monday November 18 7pm: Dress rehearsal

Tuesday November, 19 7pm: Public presentation of The Exception and the Rule
We ask that applicants commit to being present for all sessions, your regular participation is essential for the group to work as a whole.

Apply Now!
To participate in the workshops and restaging of the play, please send:
- a brief biography
- a short 250 word description of your interest in the project
to by October 15, 2013.

Applications are free and open to anyone, however registration will be limited to 10 individuals.
Hospitality and a small stipend will be offered to the selected participants.

Brad Butler / Permalink
18 April 2013
The New Deal

Public Opening 18th April through to July 14th
Walker Arts Centre

Press Release

The Museum of Non Participation is a fictional museum by London-based artists Karen Mirza and Brad Butler. For the duo, the term non participation is a useful device for questioning and challenging current conditions of political involvement and resistance. How does one participate in or withdraw from political realities individually and collectively? What social spaces support or deter such actions? And how can art represent, facilitate, or intervene this process? Made up of film, sound, text, and performed actions, The Museum of Non Participation serves as the conceptual platform from which to address these questions.

For the US debut of this ongoing project, Mirza and Butler transform the Walkers Medtronic Gallery into a multilayered installation and evolving social space that interrogates the shifting allegiances, contracts, and new deals between nation states and their citizens. A selection of video works highlights the precarious nature of this relationship as witnessed through significant geopolitical events, from the Lawyers Movement protests in Pakistan to the Arab Spring and widespread austerity rallies in Europe.

Incorporated as a central feature of the exhibition, a live production set serves as the backdrop for the artists and members of the Twin Cites community to workshop, rehearse, and stage one of Bertolt Brechts short learning plays The Exception and the Rule, a tale of corruption, exploitation, and injustice.

A program of informal public conversations and commissioned texts for the Walkers website further animate the exhibition.

Curators: Yesomi Umolu, with Susy Bielak

Brad Butler / Permalink