Martin Firrell’s new work – IT ENDS HERE is an installation piece which actively uses text as interactive source and provocateur for the audience’s participatory reaction and response. The constructed texts appear in five areas of London’s The Vaults – a multidisciplinary arts space, underneath Waterloo Station. Firrell, often described as a cultural activist and campaigner, is recognised for the questions raised in his work ranging anything from individual liberty or the right to personal idiosyncrasy; what constitutes a meaningful and purposeful life, the quality of human lived experience, gender equality and masculinity, to the politics of aging, cultural diversity, faith, climate change, hero worship, and fair/truthful governing systems. The public artist, or as described by some, the benevolent provocateur, is well-known for his stimulating debate in public spaces for the promotion of positive social change.
IT ENDS HERE which takes its source of inspiration and coincides with the forthcoming opening of the movie; Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, is an exploration of human nature and the road to redemption or hell, raising interesting questions of ethics and morality. Being an ardent fan of sci-fi, Firrell in an interview with SFX says “I love that science fiction asks huge and important questions in an accessible and confident way. Sci-fi speaks to everyone (not just academics and philosophers) but takes on huge academic and philosophic questions. I have decided to get closer to sci-fi in my art practice over the coming year, so expect lots more on this. I also love that shows like Firefly and Stargate have committed, clever, huge followings of intelligent and questioning fans who are powerful in their interest and understanding. Gertrude Stein said the trick was to have a small audience that made a lot of noise, and sci-fi fandoms tend to be self-contained and very vigorous, noisy, brilliant places. I also think there is something about outsidership and exclusion. So much of sci-fi deals with those themes, and is inclusive and generous. The classic example is the bridge of the original Enterprise: whilst parts of America were still segregated, the bridge was mixed in race and gender and all the more powerful because of the talents of all involved.” [Ref]
IT ENDS HERE is a project that mines popular culture for insights into the conditions for war or peace, for happy co-existence or mutual annihilation. Firrell, whose work has been described as ‘art as debate’, has created five different underground environments, each dominated by a word or phrase: words stand tall as a man in pitch-blackness; the underground spaces rumble with ‘found sound’. Visitors are given torches to explore and discover texts. [Ref]
Commenting on IT ENDS HERE, Firrell writes:
I have long been interested in popular culture as a potent carrier of important ideas about how to live more humanely.
In the case of Apes, what does the idea of human servitude – the human in crisis – tell us about the kind of animal we really are?
There is no doubt we are a warring and violent species, but we are also redeemed by something else – by our capacity (weak as it is) to see beyond immediate hurts and imagine an alternative to retaliation.
With It Ends Here, my intention was to explore the deeper value of Planet of the Apes’ particular corner of pop culture, locating truths that cast light on our attempts to live humanely in an over-crowded and tension-filled world. [Ref]
IT ENDS HERE will be presented in The Vaults beneath Waterloo Station from 10th to 12th July.