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Betsy Bradley, Gareth Proskourine-Barnett and Rafal ZajkoOn the Subject of Precarity

Gallery3–18 May 2019

‘On the Subject of Precarity was a group exhibition with artists Betsy Bradley, Gareth Proskourine-Barnett, and Rafal Zajko. The term precarity – a state of perpetual instability – seems to be especially pertinent within the current moment. Informed by a widespread sense of collective societal anxiety, the exhibition explores the perception of precarity in the entanglement of past, present and imagined futures.

The three artists collectively engage with shifting architectures through a focus on materiality, the significance of the fragment, and a fluctuating relationship to place; the exhibition uses the tangible to make visible political and environmental concerns. Whilst considering precarity in a broader sense, the exhibition was also a reflection on its imminent locale. The impending arrival of HS2 will drastically alter Birmingham’s cityscape, and represents a significant threat to the existing artistic community within Digbeth. ‘On the Subject of Precarity highlights the precarious position of art, and consequently artists, in a time of repeated cuts to artistic and cultural funding.

On the Subject of Precarity opened on Digbeth First Friday in May, where visitors were invited to watch the deconstruction of Rafal Zajko’s ice sculpture – a performance piece which explores ideas surrounding instability.

‘On the Subject of Precarity’ was curated by MA Art History and Curating students at the University of Birmingham, in association with Grand Union.


FRIDAY 3 MAY, 6 – 8pm

For the opening of On the Subject of Precarity as part of Digbeth First Friday, there was a performative element to Rafal Zajko’s melting ice sculpture.

SATURDAY 18 MAY, 3 – 4.30pm

Using the old Birmingham Central Library as a point of reference, Gareth Proskourine-Barnett explored the iconic emblem of brutalism through the lens of psychogeography.