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Proximate Currents: When Everything Fuses Together Ben Yau

Talk Ben Yau in conversation with Benjamin Cook

11 Jun 2020
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Join artist Ben Yau in conversation and curator Benjamin Cook, Founder Director of LUX, who will discuss Yau’s practice and his new moving image work, “Proximate Currents”.

Echoing Stuart Hall’s 2011 essay “The Neoliberal Revolution”, the project collages a wide range of clips, focusing on moments of historical rupture and settlement in Britain. The work fuses together disparate footage with various sound clips from political speeches and interviews with Hall, in an attempt to capture fugitive images of past and present crises.

Footage of the Brixton Riots, military airstrikes in Iraq, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, as well as vehicle crash tests, wildlife documentary and televised advertisements, are conjoined in a mass of “proximate currents”, moments that brush up against each other. Slowly, they trace a non-linear narrative from the Thatcher Era to the present moment, of “the long march of neoliberalism”. 


Ben Yau (b.1992, Glasgow) is a Chinese-Scots visual artist. Yau graduated from Camberwell College of Arts in 2019 and shortly thereafter was selected for Bloomberg New Contemporaries as well as Creekside Open. He has exhibited in galleries such as South London Gallery, Leeds Art Gallery, Copeland Gallery and CGP, and in 2017 co-founded the art collective confronting environmental capitalism, Decade Zero, with fellow artist Zaneta Zukalova.

Yau’s artworks employ the aesthetics of global conflict, historical narratives, and social tensions. Trained in lens-based media, he now works with materials found from a research-intensive process that are then collaged or montaged in the mediums of works on paper and moving image. Interested in the historical as a means to understand present crises, he uses diverse materials such as declassified CIA documents, British Ministry of Defence research papers, newspaper archives, and YouTube videos. By way of appropriation, Yau addresses the processes or moments of political rupture.

Yau lives and works in London.

Benjamin Cook is the founder Director of LUX and LUX Scotland, the UK agencies for the support and promotion of artists working with the moving image. He has been professionally involved in independent film and art for the past 25 years as a producer, curator, archivist, writer and teacher in the UK, USA and Japan.

Ben Yau
Image: Ben Yau, Proximate Currents, video still, 2020.