I had the pleasure of attending the private view of Mark Leckey's BigBoxIndustrialAction last Thursday (16th February) I had seen him speak about his work at the Whitworth Tuesday Talk a few weeks earlier and was entirely enamored with him.
The work he showed us at the Whitworth was not the kind of thing I generally have time for, as he works with video. However, with his explanation and extended clips of different things I slowly fell in love with him. If only because he appears to be a man who has taken far too much ecstasy in his time.
BigBoxIndustrialAction has been specially commissioned for Manchester Art Gallery and incorporated an enormous three-tonne low pressure steam chest from Ellenroad Engine House referencing the industrial history of the North West. The performance is a one-sided conversation between this huge lump of metal and a sound system matching its dimensions. Initially the noise emanating from the sound system is cacophonous, so loud it makes you feel a little sick, but after a minute you begin to understand the sounds, it becomes apparent that this mash up is the result of a carefully selected mix of noises relevant to both the piece of industrial heritage and the setting of Manchester, which is of course the birth place of rave.
The work brings to mind wasted (choose your intimation) nights underground, listening to music your father wouldn’t understand before attempting to get a bus home with people on their way to work. Towards the end of the performance, I began to feel a little bit sorry for the sound system as it was very apparent that it was going to get no response from the steam chest, which stood silent and monumental throughout.