Karen Mirza and Brad Butler, Deep State, 2012, still from HD video
Karen Mirza and Brad Butler, Deep State, 2012, still from HD video

2, 3, 6-10 November 2012
Screenings start on the hour, 12-5pm, duration 45'

Private view screening and reception Friday 2 November, 6.30pm

waterside contemporary is pleased to present Deep State, a new film by Karen Mirza and Brad Butler scripted in collaboration with author China Miéville.
The work takes its title from the Turkish term ‘Derin Devlet’, meaning ‘state within the state’. This shadowy nexus of special interests and covert relationships is the place where real power is said to reside, and where fundamental decisions are made.

Amorphous and unseen, the influence of this deep state is glimpsed at regular points throughout the film – most clearly surfacing in its reflexive responses to popular protest, and in legislated acts of violence and containment, but also rumbling and reverberating, deeper down, in a counter-language to that of popular revolt, in which a police charge, a baton attack, pepper spray, assassinations provoke, and respond to, a raised fist, a thrown rock, a crowd surge, an occupation.

A powerful undertow in the ongoing tide of history, this push and pull of competing forces is deftly illuminated in a vivid montage of newly filmed and archive footage. Past, present and future collide to form a continuum, in which clear patterns start to recur. A 'riotonaut' time-travels through momentous demonstrations, passing through the holes punched in history by uprisings. On a moonscape, confronted with a picket that becomes a riot, an ur-dictator, personification of the Deep State, blurts stupefying, hot-air abstractions of neo-liberalism.

Deep State germinated from Mirza and Butler’s experiences in Cairo prior to the occupation of Tahrir Square, at a time when it seemed impossible to speak about resistance. This sharpened Mirza and Butler’s interest in making a work that calls out and dislodges ossified language and images.

Karen Mirza and Brad Butler have worked together since 1998. Their practice is cantered upon collaboration, dialogue and the social, and their early works emerged from their interest in seminal avant-garde film. In 2004, they formed no.w.here, an artist-run organization that combines film production and critical dialogue on contemporary image making.

Since 2007 they have pursued a strain of practice entitled The Museum of Non Participation, a collection of audio-visual works, gestures and speech acts which has so far been presented in Germany, Egypt, Pakistan, Canada, and the UK – including in an Artangel project in 2009 and as part of The Museum Show at the Arnolfini, Bristol in 2011.

Mirza and Butler’s work was recently presented at the Serpentine Gallery (London), Witte de With (Rotterdam), Kunstverein Medienturm (Graz), as well as in Transport for London’s Art on the Underground programme. A solo exhibition of their work will take place at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in 2013. They are nominees for the 2012 Jarman Award.

Deep State was commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella, funded by Arts Council England and London Councils. The exhibition is supported by Arts Council England.
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