Ironic: Some Rust-Belt Art


Session Title:

  • Short Paper Presentations

Presentation Title:

  • Ironic: Some Rust-Belt Art



  • This presents some interactive artwork dealing with post-industrial issues. Both the speaker’s own artwork, and wider examples from post-heavy industrial areas of the UK and North America will be discussed. Beryl Graham’s Individual Fancies, an interactive tea table installation, will be shown on video. The artwork is designed to be more rewarding when used by several people at once, and collaboration between the users is also important. When people sit at the table and ‘pour tea’, four characters reveal their stories – each is isolated in some way. Characters include a victim of crime, a South Asian homeworker, and a telecommuter. Each also finds some kind of solution in collective action, mirroring the use of the artwork. The work is humorous as well as issue-based – some of the rewards are in the form of cakes, including the “Individual Fancies” of the title.

    Graham’s Rustheart is a photography/ mixed media artwork produced in North-East England, Pittsburg, Detroit, Hamilton and Buffalo. It combines large photographic triptychs with tourist trash and found objects. It deals with false rhetorics for areas of declining heavy industry and the vast changes in work patterns, gender and race roles. The project also has an Internet element which connects artists working with these issues, for example Carlos Diaz’s Unemployed Auto Workers, and Inter Animi’s abandoned spaces project in Detroit. Basic details and images of my artworks are available on my web site.