I was supposed to be at the Brighton festival setting up an art installation made from this car called ‘Washed up Car-go’.
My girlfriend worked in Bath. Earlier on that year she and another friend moved into a house on an estate in one of the suburbs. You can see the house in the background of the photo. I drove the car down to Bath in the middle of March so I could spend a long weekend helping out with some DIY on the house. While I was there one of my upcoming projects was cancelled due to the Covid 19 crisis so I stayed longer. Then I heard Brighton festival was cancelled so I stayed longer still. As I slowly realised everything was cancelled it also too late to go back to Essex and I was basically stranded there for the whole of the first lockdown.
As well as Brighton I was also supposed to be doing a slide talk at Chelsea college of Art that month. I was looking for some images for the talk and came across one of my old projects called ‘Selfie Slot car racing’ It was a community project that involved me photographing real cars from every angle, printing out the images; cutting them up and gluing them together to turn them into Scalextrix cars. People were invited along at the end of the project to race the Scalextrix version of their car on a giant circuit.
To take the photograph of the roof of each car I had my phone on the end of a ridiculously long selfie stick. Not everyone I approached wanted to be involved but I realised that with my comical appearance with the selfie stick I won them over by being a disarming fool.
I think it’s the same technique Boris Johnson uses.
During lockdown I spent a lot of time doing painting and decorating and general DIY on my girlfriend’s house. It was quite frustrating but my memories of ‘Selfie Slot car racing’ weirdly got me thinking about politics in our ‘post truth era’.
Like most people the covid crisis cut me off from my normal physical relationship to the world. In a paranoid era of political polarisation and ‘fake news’ we have less faith in what we hear than ever before but are more reliant than ever on the internet and the media for a view of the outside world.
As a break from the DIY I made something in the garden in response to the situation. One of the things I found difficult about this was that it touches on contemporary politics. Our ‘post truth’ political era is by definition impossible to pin down.
The Boris image of ‘affable clown’ proved charming and disarming. Whether it was engineered or not it’s proved effective for the task of Brexit. Being peculiarly British, it appealed to its idiosyncratic target audience. ‘Herd immunity Boris’ on the other hand, has proved less effective. After his recent life and death NHS encounters a new damascene; ‘best friend of the NHS’ Boris emerged. I was struggling to keep up. I think I made this thing for my own sanity in an attempt to keep the old Boris in view before it was eclipsed.
I had limited materials and tools available where I was at the time. Basically a lot old plant pots in the garden. I had one drill that we borrowed just before lockdown but quite a good selection of screws. Like a lot of people I also had a large collection of empty beer cans too.