AboutMaximum Irony! Maximum Sincerity 1999-2013 (MI!MS) is a painstaking excavation of the period immediately prior to Andy Holden's formal art training, uncovering and recreating an art movement devised by Holden and his friends as adolescents. MI!MS was an attempt to create work that was both ironic and sincere. Structured in eight parts, the history and works of MI!MS unfold across a densely layered installation incorporating video, music, painting, drawing, sculpture and text. By means of this over-investment in a moment from his youth, Holden asks how we might make things with conviction and meaning in a culture dominated by postmodernist irony and cynicism.
The exhibition developed through a meticulous process of recapturing the history of MI!MS, and reanimating it by scripting conversations and re-enacting events that took place with his friends John Blamey, Roger Illingworth, James MacDowell and Johnny Parry between 1999-2003. Works of art made by the group were collected or remade and songs were rewritten and recorded. The artist auditioned young people from Bedford, where the artist and his friends lived, to perform their roles in re-enactments of key moments from the history of MI!MS such as the signing of the manifesto, and worked with a young person's choir to record music written by the group. The resulting collage plays with tropes of irony and sincerity, with cliché, kitsch, youth and nostalgia, loading the work with sentiment and affect such that its reception becomes ambiguous.