Simon Bedwell was commissioned to make a new installation in the Picture Gallery for our Summer Festival 2017.

Inspired by Brian Yuzna’s 1989 film, in which the poor are ingested by the rich at ceremonial soirees, Bedwell’s installation, ‘SOCIETY’ featured portrait heads of the current Cabinet, laughing at an amorphous, orgiastic mass of interlinking, organic, crafted pot-bodies.

Simon Bedwell’s work has generally been characterised by a sprawling, mouthy, sensuous version of institutional critique which deliberately eschews the genre’s usual Calvinist mode. Institutional critique is a term given to the systematic investigation, reflection on and acting against the structures inherent in institutions. Art galleries and museums are the most usual focus of institutional critique by artists but with this project, there is a chance to think about the process of institutional critique in terms of everyone’s reflection on society’s political institutions in relation to democracy, press and government.

Alongside Bedwell’s installation, two sets of printed material collected by the artist were on display: etchings by caricaturist John Kay and Faceache comic strips; and a display of protest materials collected by Aberdeen based archivist Andrew MacGregor.

This work was supported by The Elephant Trust.

Simon Bedwell (Born Croydon, 1963) lives and works in London. He graduated from the MFA course at Goldsmiths College, London, in 1993, and has been teaching there since 2000. He has exhibited widely throughout the UK and internationally. Recent solo exhibitions include at Piper Keys, London (2016); Howick Place, London and Hå gamle prestegard, Norway (both 2014) and he was part of the group exhibition In a Dream I Saw a Way to Survive and I Was Full of Joy at Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester (2016). In 2011 he curated a series of five weekend exhibitions and events called The Hole which had the strap line ‘The Hole is for art, not art history’. His work was included in Rude Brittania at Tate Britain in 2010 and he had a major solo show at Studio Voltaire in London entitled The Asphalt World in 2009.

In 1991 Simon Bedwell co-founded the London art group BANK with John Russell, which for 12 years made art, exhibitions, tabloid-style publications and events including projects at Musee d’Art Moderne, Paris and ICA, London (both 1997).