Exhibitions, Projects, Technology

A Psychiatric Understanding of Grand Theft Auto 5

Images from the series FF Gaiden: Alternative © Larry Achiampong & David Blandy

An investigation into teenagers' relationship with the viral video-game Grand Theft Auto, inspired by the works of radical Psychiatrist Frantz Fanon, the first collaborative solo exhibition by artists Larry Achiampong and David Blandy, is about to go on show at The Gallery, at the Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle.

Tyneside Cinema’s The Gallery, alongside The Factory, The Gallery’s art programme for 14-19 year olds. commissioned Larry Achiampong and David Blandy to create the exhibition, entitled FF Gaiden: Alternative.

The exhibition forms part of the artists’  Finding Fanon series, an on-going collection of work inspired by the lost plays of Frantz Fanon, widely regarded as the definitive post-colonial theorist. Achiampong and Blandy’s most recent collaborative projects include Finding Fanon Part 1 and 2, (2015), and Biters, (2014).

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Achiampong, a British-Ghanian artist born in 1984, completed a BA in Mixed Media Fine Art at University of Westminster in 2005. David Blandy, born in London in 1976, graduated from the  Chelsea College of Art in 1998, and the Slade School of Art MA in Fine Art Media in 2003. Their combined partnership explores “a shared interest in communal and personal heritage and the influence of popular culture.”

Born in Martinique, Fanon traveled to France to fight in the Second World War before settling in North Africa, working as a psychiatrist in a small town, Blida, 50 miles from the Algerian capital.

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It was here, in the years leading up to both its release and Fanon’s death in 1961, that he wrote his chilling account of the psychological effects of colonialism and decolonization on the native Algerian population, Les Damnés de la Terre – ‘The Wretched of the Earth.’

Fanon, when Head of Psychiatry at the Blida-Joinville Hospital, Algeria, whilst treating Algerian and French soldiers, observed the effects of colonial violence on the human psyche. He saw violence as the defining characteristic of colonialism and conversely as a cathartic reaction against oppression.

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FF Gaiden: Alternative uses the virtual gaming world of Grand Theft Auto 5 to explore Fanon’s writings, asking “what it means to be entering the adult world at this precise moment in time.”

Created by a process of collaboration between Achiampong and Blandy with young people participating in The Factory, FF Gaiden: Alternative combines a multitude of material taken from conversations regarding contemporary teenage identity.

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The series, therefore, explores: “Thoughts about how relationships and identities are formed through the virtual world; and an original, encapsulating, synth-driven soundtrack that contextualises the intense, high definition visuals and stories of the film.”

Since first embarking on their joint practice in 2013, the artists have performed and presented their work nationally and internationally but have not, until now, been the subject of a singular exhibition.

The exhibition run from 4 May – 16 June 2016 at The Gallery, Tyneside Cinema, NE1 6QG. More information is available here.