Church of Bitcoin / Actually, They're Not Funny. They're Art

24 Feb 2017 – 25 Feb 2017

Regular hours

10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00

Cost of entry


5th Base Gallery

London, United Kingdom


Travel Information

  • Tube: Algate East, Whitechappel, Shoreditch High Street

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Double exhibition exploring different aspects of ritual in contemporary culture featuring work by artists James Johnston and Eliot Jones


For Church of Bitcoin artist Eliot Jones has transformed the gallery into a ‘sacred space’ consisting of various sites for ritual and digital worship. Visitors are invited to participate in a pseudo religious mass inspired by sub-reddit and bitcoin forum discussions proposing the forming of a new religion centred around the cryptocurrency Bitcoin.

The proposal of a Church of Bitcoin is presented here as an analogy of the rituals of contemporary culture; investment in the non-material through content creation and the construction online identity, mass connectedness and radical individualism, a replacing of human agency powered by trust in the algorithm, a culture which through the tools of technology seeks transcendence, stability and revelation. To what extent do the technologies reveal or drive out other possibilities of revealing, and in what way does what remains hidden reframe our experience of ourselves and our society?

‘Actually, they’re not funny. They’re art’ is a show of six pieces from James Johnston. Working across video, live art and installation, James’ main aim is for you to laugh at him and then if all goes well, progress to laughing at yourself. The show takes its name from a line in ‘Love Actually’ – a film sharing some of the problems of James’ work to date.​

“Lots of us make these grand statements about how universal and accessible we want art to be. I find this so fascinating and also very depressing because it’s such an easy and empty thing to say. Whether we’re aware of it or not, I don’t think most of us really want that at all. I think if we can start to recognise this trait in ourselves and each other we can talk about ways to fix it, and laughing at it is as good a place to start as any.”

Most of the work is interactive. It is to be sat on, picked up, written on and thumbed through. Some of it is incomplete and parts of it are not very good. It is mainly about ritual, how practical public art can and should be, the intrinsic masturbatory nature of male artists like James and about whether or not pretending to be St Paul can make him a practicing Catholic again.

James is an artist from Arncroach, Fife. He was born in 1989 and lives in London. At the moment he’s really interested in the places where ‘live art’ and ‘public art’ clash.

Eliot is a multidisciplinary artist from London, born in 1988, his work explores themes of digital immanence and the mythologies that surround new developments in technology.

Exhibiting artists

Eliot Jones

James Johnston


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