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A new exhibition developed at Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (mima) is an urgent reaction to the recent closure of Redcar’s steelworks and a bid to make a positive contribution to the future of industry in the North East region.
Teesside World Exposition of Art and Technology captures the industrial character of Teesside and shows how it has formed, from the extraction of raw materials to production, as well as the import/export of goods.
Teesside has always been defined by its industry and has history of making. The eminent past and economic future of the area is explored through historical documents and artifacts, contrasted with a showcase of new industrial technology and works by artists who have portrayed Teesside’s steelworks.
Against the background noise of the Northern powerhouse agenda and a time in which heavy industry is considered obsolete, this project explores the current issues of global change that have affected the local economy so dramatically and provides an opportunity to look ahead at the new industries and technologies that can evolve out of Teesside’s heritage and landscape.
The gallery features the activity of various regional companies alongside a makerspace, archival material drawn from Teesside Archives, the Central Library and the Dorman Museum, and works from artists such as Eva Fàbregas, Hackney Flashers, Aikaterini Gegisian, Goldin+Senneby, Mikhail Karikis, Adrian Melis, MVRDV, Farid Rasulov, Len Tabner, and Stephen Willats.
mima director, Alistair Hudson, said: “This exhibition has been put together extremely quickly but it was essential that we should attempt something like this now rather than later. It’s vital that an institute like us starts to take part in and tackles the issues that matter. The loss of large scale steel production is as much a cultural crisis as an economic one and we need to play our part in finding new industries, skills and solutions to keep the region economically healthy.
That’s why the project profiles new local industrial processes and opportunities, as well as art, to understand that creativity and business are not separate but work together to shape our society. This is more than an exhibition; it’s an active project to make a real contribution to changing the situation. In doing this we revisit the history of the Institute movement, the organisations that were established in Great Britain during the Industrial Revolution, where learning through making, art, engineering and technology were all made accessible to many.”
The project follows on from Localism, an exhibition that used public contributions to create a new story around local art and society. While Localism coincided with the closure of Redcar’s plant and acknowledged this loss in the display, there was a notable public demand to acknowledge the story of industry in greater depth, and this project is the response to that call.
Opening on 25 June, Teesside World Exposition of Art and Technology will also explore some of the small scale artisanal and creative industries and international trade and exchange connections that Teesside has fostered since the nineteenth century. Closes Sunday 9 October 2016.