Jonny Tanna presents Midnight Cinema, the ﬁrst of a chronicle of gallery takeover shows under the banner Harlesden High Street, a project of collaborative activity that utilises and assembles a mix of outsider and emerging artists whose diverse practices are brought together to form a blended participatory occupation of both the gallery and online space.
Midnight Cinema was spawned from a frustration with the slow-drip effects of cultural terror induced by a dirge of contemporary mainstream music and the overt commercialism of video games by gaming companies whose primary concern is please the stockholders by charging monthly fees to enable users to simulate war on an assumed cultural enemy. The project identiﬁes this mainstream cultural indoctrination and contrasts that with nostalgia for a seemingly innocent AV/gaming experience of the recent past. Highlighting a concern for the effect of this onslaught of rampant commercialisation on modern culture, Midnight Cinema wages a battle to dissect and reconstitute contemporary culture, creating a rallying call for change. In a repetitively futile action, which relentlessly prods at the everyday Audio Visual consumer, attempting to guide their transformation towards a high-quality image/sound. Frustration deepening as technology accelerates and quality deteriorates. Bearing witness to an almost criminal complacency that has seen, since the 1990s, VHS recorded badly time and time again (RF cable not S-Video or SCART), quality degraded to the gutter, stereo sound neglected, until eventually resolution meanders to just the trickle of pixels of the low-res renderings of the fast moving Whatsapp / screencap generation.
Pursuing the idea that being self-serving is inherently self-defeating and that art belongs to no-one and everyone, the collaborative aspects that run throughout the project embrace multiple possibilities for the assimilation of new artworks and a fascination with approaching and dissecting the production of group ideas into form becomes apparent through the structure of the exhibition. In a complex overlaying of the content of an artists production, Midnight Cinema exposes itself as a mechanism for coping with the vulnerability of the artistic self by repurposing cultural layering into new forms of content that collaborative platforming enables dialogue between various sub-cultures and generations. Images are re-claimed as the group show becomes a new form of solo presentation, urged on by an archival drive. Artists once admired are talked to, gathered, selected, rejected, then re-selected, in a process of guilt curating that results in a new generative, collaborative form. A single mind cloned through a multitude of bodies, the hive mind springs into action. Endlessly replicating, repurposing and bootlegging.