Magazine article Art Monthly

Unspeakable Freedom

Magazine article Art Monthly

Unspeakable Freedom

Article excerpt

Local councillors in Blackpool have leaned on the Grundy Art Gallery in order to prevent a newly commissioned film by Jennet Thomas from being exhibited. Thomas's presciently titled The Unspeakable Freedom Device was programmed to run at the gallery from 20 September to 22 November. However, an interview with the artist in which she criticised coalition government policies appears to have been used by some councillors as evidence that the film has an anti-Tory bias. The film does indeed feature a Margaret Thatcher doll but, like much of Thomas's work, it is a sci-fi fantasy that explores ideology as a kind of faith, this time using the Tory party conferences in Blackpool as the foundation of a collective myth.

Inadvertently mimicking the film's protagonists, the city's politicians let their interpretive fantasies run free, scaring themselves into believing that the people of Blackpool are not ready to see the work. Labour councillor Christine Wright, Blackpool's cabinet member for culture and heritage, made the following statement: 'The fact that we are in the lead up to a by-election in October and both a general and local election in May, it did not seem appropriate for us to host this exhibition at this time. …

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