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Anarchy near the UK

2016

In 'Anarchy Near the UK', the work's sense of urgency – as reflected in its title – is interwoven with historical precedence and irony. The installation was originally commissioned by Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) for the exhibition 'PUNK: Its traces in contemporary art' (May – September 2016), which celebrated the Punk movement's 40th anniversary. In the work, Balaskas replicates one of the basic strategies of Situationism, which in turn was picked up by Punk: détournement, or changing the meaning of capitalist tools and methodologies. In this case, the artist creates a peculiar "paper embroidery" by cutting out all the news stories on the front page of the Sun newspaper of 25 January 2016, leaving intact only the headline and its reference to anarchy. In doing so, it seems as if the slogans that the Sex Pistols ("Anarchy in the UK"), lifted from the anarchist group King Mob, finally hit the UK. The title of the newspaper ("Anarchy near the UK") refers to the Calais immigrant "jungle" in France and the refugee crisis as a threat to the UK – a story covered in the context of the Brexit referendum campaign. In addition to the amended front page of the Sun, Balaskas presents in a display case a series of objects and memorabilia that allude to the other removed stories. Those include a famous footballer (Wayne Rooney) becoming a dad to a baby boy; a major football club (Manchester United) being in crisis due to bad results; a famous singer (Harry Styles of the boyband One Direction) dating a fashion model and reality television personality (Kendall Jenner of the Kardashians family); a story about Google's tax avoidance in the UK; and a story about an elderly Lotto winner. By juxtaposing the dramatic title of the tabloid newspaper with material representations of the removed stories, Balaskas highlights the absurdity of today's post-truth world, in which spectacle has replaced any notion of factuality. The members of the audience are called to "reconnect" the missing threads of the news stories in order to reach this painful, but necessary realization.

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