Join us to hear John Kippin talk about his exhibition ‘Romanitas’ and his work in greater depth on Wednesday 6 June at 6.30pm at Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art.
Romanitas reveals a brand new body of work created in Rome since 2012. It was made before the rise of the far-right on both sides of the Altantic, but after the austerity imposed by governments across Europe that has allowed parties such as Northern League in Italy; the Front National in France; Golden Dawn in Greece; the Freedom Party in Austria; the Party for Freedom in Holland; the Alternative for Germany, all to flourish.
In Romanitas, Kippin reflects upon both the state of contemporary politics, in relation to that what WH Auden called the “low, dishonest decade” of the 1930s. In Romanitas Kippin dwells on the image of the future built by a far-right nationalist regime that still exists, to picture the daily life lived amongst it. The work can be read as a kind of portrait of Europe in our time. Kippin’s starting point in creating the work was Winston Churchill’s famous phrase: “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us”.
John Kippin’s artwork is represented in three of the UK’s national collections of contemporary art, having recently been acquired for the Arts Council Collection in 2018, and having works in the Victoria & Albert Museum and British Council Collection. John Kippin’s career began in the early 1970s when he was a key figure in the co-operative of young artists who ran 2B Butler’s Wharf at Tower Bridge. In this decade he was instrumental in presenting artists’ film, performance, and installation projects in public and gaining recognition for new media in the visual arts. In the 1980s Kippin began to receive widespread recognition for his own photographic artwork, exhibiting in public venues from the Serpentine Gallery in 1981 to the Laing Art Gallery in 1989. In the 1990s he was awarded major one-person exhibitions at venues including The Photographers’ Gallery, London and his work was acquired for the permanent collections of national institutions. He also exhibited across Europe, North America and Asia. In the 2000s he undertook research residencies at places from the military base Greenham Common to the stately home Compton Verney, and published a sequence of ground-breaking artist’s books. Since then he also exhibited bodies of work at venues from BALTIC to the Imperial War Museum.
Kippin is Emeritus Professor in Photography at the University of Sunderland and is chair of the visual arts organisation Locus+.
The talk is programmed in collaboration with Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art.