Art student presents surveillance exhibition
Second year BA (Hons) Fine Art student, Samela Otoviç, will present ‘Counterplay’, the second in a series of three exhibitions at BasementArtsProject in Beeston, launching with a preview on Friday 10 July, from 7.30-9.30pm. The exhibition will then be available to view on Saturday 11, Sunday 12, Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 July from 2-4pm.
Her series of exhibitions, beginning with ‘It Will Come to Me’ in July 2014, at the end of her first year of university, are charting her three years of study at Leeds Beckett.
Samela, originally from Albania, explained: “’Counterplay’ firstly was inspired by what was happening in Paris after the Charlie Hebdo shootings where there was a big drone invasion over the capital. By this point I had already become interested in things that fly.
“My work looks at technology and how it manifests controls in today's society and art. I am interested in how technology allows us to achieve so much, but also limits us. ‘Counterplay’ focuses on control aspects, the negatives and positives and the political happening at the time.
“I am interested in the ‘fake’ in my work: I explore this through games and how games can control a ‘faking’ of the work. In one of the rooms in my exhibition, I use games to distort people’s perception, in order to get across a certain meaning or idea.”
‘Counterplay’ deals with ideas surrounding the use and misuse, appropriation and in-appropriation of technology in society. Is technology the voice of the people or a tool of the state? Over the course of the last year, Samela’s work has taken a playful look at weighty subjects such as surveillance and her position as a person of dual nationality. For ‘Counterplay’ she is developing a new piece of work that will further develop these themes.
Speaking about the development of the forthcoming exhibition, Bruce Davies, Chair and Curator at BasementArtsProject, commented: “In June 2014, Samela, then coming to the end of her first year at Leeds Beckett, approached me about the possibility of doing a project at BasementArtsProject. I set her a challenge and said that if she could provide me with a full proposal of what she intended to do, then I would consider it. I gave her one week from the point of meeting me and viewing the space that she would be given to work with. Her proposal arrived in my inbox several hours after our meeting.
“It was this proposal that became the 'It Will Come To Me' exhibition in July 2014, which looked at her studies of light in relation to painting. Shortly after finishing this exhibition I decided that it may be an interesting proposition to use this as the starting point for a larger project that charted the progress of a student through their degree from year one to graduation. We decided that July each year until 2016 would be reserved for the continuance of this project. That is what has led us to the point of 'Counterplay'.”
Samela Otoviç is also the winner of the annual ‘Edna Lumb Travel Prize' for 2015 and is currently heading to Arizona to undertake the first stage of her Edna Lumb Travel Project.
Edna Lumb was a student at the former Leeds College of Art from 1948 to 1953. In her second year of study Edna won a travel scholarship of £50, and used the money to visit art collections in Paris and Avignon, sketching these wherever she went. The experience proved such a revelation for Edna that she made provision in her will for an annual travel prize to be awarded to students of art at Leeds Beckett University.
Samela said: “I am very excited about travelling to Arizona to begin my project which is about addressing issues of fear, failure and fear of failure. My proposition is to tandem skydive over the Grand Canyon and my intention is to remove any personal knowledge of the landscape and avoid the representation of the known landmark. The work is less about place and more concerned with emotion, experience and the passage of time.”
BasementArtsProject is an artist-led initiative, located in a pre-war, mid-terrace house in South Leeds, facilitating and promoting the activities of artists nationally and internationally whilst maintaining a broad and varied programme within the city of Leeds. For more information on BasementArtsProject please visit http://basementartsproject.com/about/