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Aug 6 - Aug 28

A new Augmented Reality artwork by artist Baff Akoto will exhibit nationwide via QR code from August 6th 2021.  

Marking the 10th anniversary of the “UK Riots” of 2011 – described by the artist as “the first uprisings of the digital era” – UP:RISE explores the pathology, history and underlying drivers of English civil unrest in the digital age, the evolution in technology that has helped to shape it and how society has since evolved along the same fault lines that erupted that summer.

The QR codes will be located in the communities of Birmingham (at BOM), Liverpool and London where incidents of unrest were recorded during August 2011.

The artwork embeds archive of the 2011 civil unrest with additional still and video elements onto an Augmented Reality sculpture. The sound design includes testimonies from those arrested and convicted for offences recorded on August 6th – 11th 2011 – reflecting back on their country, their lives then and in the decade since.

UP:RISE re-casts August 2011 as a key formative moment of 21st Century Britain. 2011’s uprisings were widely reported as the senseless sacking and looting of property by mindless youth fuelled by opportunistic material greed and BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) encryption. UP:RISE takes a critical and provocative position, re-examining this portrayal and the legacies of August 2011 on the past 10 years. The work and its nationwide public exhibition also reflects on Britain’s postwar tradition of violent civil unrest and community uprisings sparked by police violence, fanned by social deprivation and racial animosity.

With access to public space and social life restricted by the pandemic, UP:RISE seeks to expand the notion of what public art can be. By engaging digitally with non-traditional audiences that previously have been excluded from such conversations, UP:RISE marks a step change in the conception of public and community art practice in the digital era. In rendering this new model of public art exhibition, Akoto encourages social critique and community engagement by exploring charged social histories while speculating around our shared digital futures.

The work will be available to access via QR code on posters outside BOM between the 6th and 28th August 2021.

Watch the Livestream

A Recurring Dreams production supported by Arts Council England and Gap Inc, Akoto’s UP:RISE artwork and exhibition is accompanied by community workshops and a Conversation Series bringing together thought leaders with community and youth voices nationwide to explore the inherent themes of the work, delving into how digital networks connect marginalised people and shape real-world mass dissent. This programme is curated by Akoto and cultural producer Anthea Lewis supported by BOM in Birmingham; FACT and The Bluecoat in Liverpool and the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in London.


Aug 6
Aug 28