Karen Mirza and Brad Butler’s artistic practice is a cartography of tensions held in Said, Unsaid and Unsayable folds of power, trauma and fear, whilst simultaneously sifting human subjectivity to unearth new languages of resilience and resistance. Since 2009, the duo has been developing this body of work as The Museum of Non Participation. The artists have repeatedly found themselves embedded in pivotal moments of change, protest, non-alignment and debate. Experiencing such spaces of contestation, both directly and through the network of art institutions, Mirza (b.1970) and Butler (b.1973) negotiate these influences in video, photography, text and action.
This is a praxis that investigates neoliberal life through an imaginary and mobile institution that invites its visitors to question the possibilities of active withdrawal. The ‘Acts’ which comprise the collection of The Museum of Non Participation ask us to consider how our lives ricochet off histories and geographies seemingly disparate from our own. In navigating between these works, both an image of social relations under capitalism and a potential locus of resistance is uncovered.
Their recent solo presentations include The Unreliable Narrator at the Whitechapel Gallery (2015) The New Deal at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2013), and The Guest of Citation at Performa 13, New York (2013). Mirza and Butler have exhibited in groups exhibitions internationally, including at the Hayward Gallery, London, FACT, Liverpool, Centro de Arte Dos De Mayo, Madrid, La Capella, Barcelona, Arnolfini, Bristol, and Serpentine Gallery, London. In 2014/15 they were shortlisted for Artes Mundi 6, an international art prize recognising artistic practices that engage with the human condition, accompanied by an exhibition in Cardiff, Wales.
Karen Mirza and Brad Butler | Our huge thanks to the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. The timing of this award is critical in creating the space and time that allows us to trust in each other's intuition for the new areas of our thought and research that are emerging. It has been a long held ambition of ours to become full time artists and this award is a big step in supporting us to push the limits of our practice even further.