Curated by a/political
19 October - 13 December
Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet
Franko B has championed the rights of the “unloved” since his seminal bleeding performances in the 1990s. At the present, when Ireland is interrogating the Church and the State for the abuse of thousands of children and adults, the artist confronts us with his advocacy on behalf of those let down by the institutions designed to help them.
A red cross is tattooed on Franko B’s heart and is repeated like a pulse all over his body. For many, it is a symbol synonymous with care-giving, particularly the ‘protected persons’ helping the sick and wounded in areas of armed conflict. For Franko B, it reflects the trauma of his youth and his personal, political and poetic desire to undo the wrongs imposed on him as a vulnerable child. Having been raised in an orphanage and subsequently in a boarding school run by the Italian Red Cross, Franko B uses his own childhood experiences in the exhibition Unloved to examine ongoing exploitation, negligence and abuse of power.
Throughout Unloved, Franko B foregrounds photographs of victims of atrocities that the press and digital media relentlessly force us to consume. In his piece The World is Bleeding, 2019, he clashes images that highlight a mixture of famine, power, poverty, neo-colonialism, beauty and war in a stream reminiscent of an Instagram scroll. As Susan Sontag observed, “We want the photographer to be a spy in the house of love and death” (Regarding the Pain of Others, 2003); here Franko B bestows this privilege on us.
For the first time, Franko B presents thirty-three canvases, stitched with a pain previously inflicted on his punctured body. For each portrait, Franko B conflates the distance between photographed subjects and the audience, stripping them of captions, locations, the identity assigned at birth and the colour of the skin, focusing instead on their tormented, adolescent bodies. Distilling the image from these qualities leaves the audience with nothing to feed their prejudice against ‘them’. In a democratic and humanitarian gesture, he connects the war-front and the home-front, both engulfed in the pain of poverty.
Marking the opening of the exhibition, on 18 October, Franko B will deliver UNLOVED - a one-off performance at Rua Red. The performance, featuring the works from the series Homage to the New World Order, 2017, manifests the artist’s violent resistance against institutional abuse and negligence.
Unloved is the sixth installment of a two year partnership between a/political and Rua Red. Supported also by South Dublin County Council
Franko B (1960) born in Milan. His practice spans drawing, installation, performance and sculpture. A pioneer of body art and a leading performance artist and activist, Franko B uses his body as a tool to explore the themes of the personal, political, poetic, resistance, suffering and the reminder of our own mortality and vulnerability. Franko B lives and works in London and is a professor of Sculpture at L’Accademia Albertina Di Belle Arti di Torino, Italy. He is also a visiting lecturer at the Royal College of Art, London. He has presented work internationally at: Tate Modern; ICA (London); South London Gallery; Arnolfini (Bristol); Palais des Beaux-Arts (Brussels); Beaconsfield Contemporary Art (London); Bluecoat Museum (Liverpool); Tate Liverpool; Ruarts Foundation (Moscow); PAC (Milian); Contemporary Art Centre (Copenhagen) and many more. His works are in the collections of the Tate, Victoria and Albert Museum, South London Gallery, the permanent collection of the city of Milan and a/political, London.
a/political prioritises intellectual curiosity and informed discourse around social and political concerns through contemporary art and cultural practices. It encourages the exploration of radical knowledge, platforming voices that interrogate the critical issues and dominant narratives of our time. Through rigorous cross-disciplinary experimentation, a/political collaborates on large-scale projects previously thought unrealisable due to their scale, logistical complexity and/or subject matter. Projects are produced, exhibited and toured worldwide. In addition to the long-term project, a/political continues to acquire historical artworks for its collection. Based in London, with The Foundry, France.