In summer 1996, Tim Brennan spent 25 days walking 298 miles along the route of the Jarrow Crusade, the famous protest march that took place sixty years earlier in 1936 – the same year George Orwell began his journey north from London. Avoiding the representational, fragments of material were prepared by the artist in advance and collected en route, including newspaper cuttings, maps, postcards, historical quotes and political statements from the 1930s; allowing a co-existence and rupture between the past and present.
In opposition to the notion of historical re-enactment, Brennan inserted himself into the physical reality of the walk, its route and the world around him. The memorial to the Jarrow Crusade already existed; the process of walking the route activated this without a need for dramatic restaging or the construction of public monuments. Now eighty years since the Jarrow Crusade, this archive is re-presented, to bear witness to the 21st century. Relinquishing artistic authorship, history has decided how we view and read this archive today.
Curated by AV Festival 2016: Meanwhile, what about Socialism? as part of the Festival group exhibition across nine venues in Newcastle and Gateshead.
The exhibition includes work by the following artists and archives: Thomas Spence (UK), Amber Films (UK), Jack Common/North East Film Archive (UK), Tim Brennan (UK), Hugo Canoilas (Portugal), Dan Perjovschi (Romania), Madhusudhanan (India), Pallavi Paul (India), Haim Sokol (Russia), R.E.P. (Ukraine), Claire Fontaine (France).
The Festival title comes from a quote in George Orwell’s book ‘The Road to Wigan Pier’, which is the thematic framework for AV Festival 2016-2018. In 1936, Orwell spent two months living in the industrial North observing working-class life amidst growing social injustice, poverty and unemployment. The book is an analysis of English socialism, concluding that the basis of democratic socialism is equality and fairness. Mirroring the book's structure, AV Festival 2016 is Part One, with artists situating themselves in relation to historic and contemporary political struggle. Presented in 14 venues the programme features 12 solo installations, 48 film screenings, nine artist talks and four performances.
For more information about the whole AV Festival programme please visit: www.avfestival.co.uk