Upper Space @ Cultural Hijack, AA Gallery, London

Cultural Hijack
Featuring works by: Zevs,  Ztohoven,  Zoe Young,  Krzysztof Wodiczko, Matthias Wermke & Mischa Leinkauf,  Voina, Upper Space,  Gregory Sholette,  Danny Shine,  Michael Rakowitz, Ben Parry & Peter McCaughey, Tatzu Nishi,  Renzo Martens,  Knit the City, Peter Kennard,  Laura Keeble,  Allan Kaprow, John Jordan, Tushar Joag,  International Peripatetic Sculptors Society,  Space Hijackers,  Paul Harfleet,  EPOS 257, Electronic Disturbance Theater,  Nina Edge,  Alan Dunn,  Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army, Paolo Cirio,  Leah Borromeo & Dr. D,  BGL.

London Exhibition Cultural Hijack

Introduction: From the creation of insurgent public spaces to the playful disruptions of public life, Cultural Hijack explores the role of art and the artist in contemporary society and offers the opportunity to rethink the growing field of intervention in relation to cultural activism and social change. The exhibition presented a series of provocative interventions which have inserted themselves into the world, demanding attention, interrupting everyday life, hijacking, trespassing, agitating and teasing. Often unannounced and usually anonymous, these artworks have appropriated media channels, hacked into live TV and radio broadcasts, attacked billboards, re-appropriated street furniture, subverted signs, monuments and civic architectures, organised political actions as protest, exposed corporations and tax loopholes and revealed the absurdities of government bureaucracies.

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Cultural Hijack was formed in three parts: a survey exhibition of documented artworks from across the globe, supported by artists’ talks; live interventions, in which the artists arrive in London to agitate and infiltrate the urban territory, starting in Bedford Square and moving out across the city; and CONTRAvention, in which the programme culminates in a carnival weekend of lectures, symposia, screenings, participatory actions, interventions, dinners and debate.


Upper Space were asked to feature in the exhibition and presented works by Manchester based artists Shift//Delete.

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Shift//Delete revisited one of their previous projects – Binary Oppositions (2011) and updated their approach for a gallery context by inviting viewers of the installation to actively and directly take part in reclaiming public space from private corporations. 20 kits were provided as part of the installation that contained reclaimed advertising posters, keys for the advertisement display boxes, a branded hi vis uniform and an illustrated guide for interacting with advertising spaces within the city. Also, as part of the live programme of interventions that accompanied the exhibition, Shift/Delete created ‘Act of Parliament’, a laser projection that assaulted the Gherkin building in the City of London, check the video after the jump…   Shift//Delete – Binary Oppositions (2011 – ongoing) Process…

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Final installation // Cultural Hijack, AA Gallery, London 2013  Binary Oppositions (2011 – Ongoing)

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‘Consume; Conserve’

‘Liberate; Confine’

‘Question; Forget’

Six large-format outdoor advertisements were re-appropriated and subsequently reinserted into public space as pairs of binary oppositions mounted on opposing sides of freestanding advertising spaces. Installed anonymously as gifts to society, the artworks subvert the spaces traditionally associated with commodity exchange and therefore cannot be commercialised. The Artwork here is both documentation and a call to action. Participate, intervene and share. Take Back these spaces.

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Shift//Delete – ‘Act of Parliament’

As part of the Cultural Hijack live programme of interventions, Shift//Delete focussed their attention on the relationship between the government and the City of London. The intervention saw significant press attention from the UK and Europe as well as the artists living to fight another day…

Shift//Delete – ‘Act of Parliament’ (2013)

(laser projection on building, City of London, 2013)

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Artist Statement:

“The Gherkin’ building stands on London’s skyline as a symbol of financial power in the UK. Located inside a corporate tax haven known as ‘the Square Mile’, with its own special laws, hundreds of billions of pounds flow through it tax free whilst the rest of us suffer an age of austerity. Parliament has given these bankers nearly £500 billion pounds of public money due to the financial crisis and right now the same bankers enjoy £14 billion worth of bonuses a year for their actions. Parliament does nothing to challenge the bankers.  Parliament has been captured – and seeks to constantly gratify the City of London whilst the rest of us have austerity imposed on us.”

“In response to this reality, we have turned the Gherkin into the worlds tallest dick – a 180m high erection for deregulation and global capitalism. We have created this art work for all those that are suffering cuts to budgets, public services, benefits, rights, libraries, freedoms and quality of life as Parliament perpetuates the age old practice of taxing the poor for the mistakes of the rich.”

“If art is a lie that makes us realise truth - it is clear that we need to create alternatives to the conventional wisdoms. In this current time we can no longer ignore the effects of unrestricted greed, consumption and the fetishisation of profit and money.”

See the short film of the intervention here:

‘Act of Parliament’ / Shift//Delete from upper space on Vimeo.

The Cultural Hijack exhibition positioned itself at the intersection between art, politics and social justice in an historical moment, as we witness a rising tide of global resistance to neoliberal capitalism through an expanding ‘movement of movements’, from Zapatismo to the Arab Spring, from alternative G8 summits to Occupy Wall Street. In the shadows of this moment, artists are joining in the writing of alternative histories, the reclamation of our rights to the city and the unfinished project of the revolution of everyday life.

In attempting to house these ideas together in an institution, the curators were mindful of the Architectural Association as an influential zone, where the physical future of Architecture and Urbanism is significantly shaped. They propose that the dissemination of the ideas and practices gathered for Cultural Hijack, might similarly shape the possibilities for us to occupy as yet unimagined futures, where user-generated cities and systems, that support individual and collective empowerment, become more prevalent.

Respects due to Peter, Ben, Stepan, Danielle, Matthew and the crew.

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