Gasworks presents Quantum Ghost, the first UK solo exhibition and a major new commission by Bristol-based artist Libita Clayton.
Libita Clayton develops performances, installations and discursive events, often working in partnership with DIY organisations, broadcasters and publishers. Sampling from a range of references, including science fiction, music videos and set design, she responds to sites of historical trauma and rupture through research, dialogue and interventions, often calling into question accepted narratives and power structures.
Comprising a multi-channel sound work, large-scale sculpture and series of prints, Quantum Ghost maps Clayton’s journey through archives and territories related to her family history. This includes the personal archive of her father, a SWAPO (political party and former Namibian independence movement) supporter who grew up in Namibia but came to study mining engineering in Cornwall during the 1980s. Rooted in these sites of memory and testimony, and the politics and intimacies of the period more generally. The sound work is the outcome of deeply personal process grounded in sound archaeology, which Clayton describes as ‘a montage of intimate moments and correspondence, set against a rhythm of social uprisings, political turmoil, and natural disaster’. In this spirit, the monologue running throughout is part-poetry, part-essay, and part-lament; and overlays manipulated field recordings of mined minerals and the now-outdated technologies used to extract them.
Presented alongside this work, the large-scale sculpture is a tunnel-like dwelling made from packed earth, chicken wire and survival blankets. Riffing on the natural and subterranean materials and forms found in the historic mining regions of Namibia and Cornwall, it looks like a hybrid of a cob house, a mine shaft and an ear canal. Inside and around this structure, the prints hold ghostly images that speak to visions of ancestry, collective trauma and residual power.
Libita Clayton’s exhibition is commissioned and produced by Gasworks in partnership with Spike Island, Bristol. She is the third artist to take part in the Freelands Artist Programme at Gasworks, a three-year programme for emerging artists based outside of London. Made possible thanks to a generous grant from the Freelands Foundation, the programme combines a three-month residency with a solo exhibition and series of public events at Gasworks.
Libita Clayton is a British-Namibian artist based in Bristol. She graduated with a BA (Hons) in Print & Digital Media from Wimbledon College of Art, University of the Arts London in 2009. Recent presentations include: 4717, RCA/LUX, Dyson Gallery, Royal College of Art, London (2018); History Lessons: Fluid Records, South London Gallery, London; and the Diaspora Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale (all 2017).