Artists Wesam Al Asali, FRAUD and Nastassja Simensky come together to bring a critical framing to the concept of preservation. Embracing different methodologies and spanning diverse contexts – from the Syrian conflict, to pre and postindustrial England – their practices shed light on issues of accountability, agency, power and ownership.
Hands Up! A Manual
The little-known Manicular Therapy was developed in the 16th century, and is still deployed today to combat antisocial behaviour and as means by which we can examine our relationships to knowledge, meaning and misunderstanding. It is not a process of enlightenment, but requires an honest acceptance of the fact that we are continuously bewildered, encouraging us to embrace this state as productive.
Drawing on found footage from American Public Information films, Hands Up! A Manual explored Manicular Therapy’s obscure correctives alongside criminological analysis of the hands, offering supposedly profound insight into such enduring socio-political phenomena as manners, manufacturing, mandates, object-subject relations, and itching.
Despite its authoritative form, the film's content wavered between acceptable observation and ridiculous invention. By continually shifting disciplines, opinions, ideologies, and misinterpretations, an through a disjunction between what the audience was told and what was on screen, it refused to be assigned to reality or fantasy at any given moment. At times the footage was affirming, even illustrative; at others it was contradictory, tangential or irrelevant. The documentary format conventionally suggests authority, truth or authentic experience; but this work never duped the audience into thinking it was ‘real’.
Sally O'Reilly produces publications, videos and performances that find curious links between apparently divergent phenomena. Sally’s texts, events and performances intended to impart information, ignite curiosity and transcend genres, playing on her interests in metafiction, interdisciplinary collaboration and the history of ideas.