Noor Afshan Mirza and Brad Butler, founders of the London-based centre for artist film production, no.w.here, create work which spans the moving image, installation, sound, text and performed actions. Their practice explores themes of resistance, inequality, power and privilege, and (non) participation. They are interested in art that questions the deep state, unreliable narration and the ectoplasm of neoliberalism, while investigating the use of womens bodies as sites of resistance. Differentiating between work made in struggle and work made about struggle, they use an expanded notion of body politics stretching from irrational and non-verbal knowing to how resistance is inscribed in the body and how the body memorises traumatic experience. Noor and Brad are well-known for their fictional construct The Museum of Non Participation (2008-2016), which interrogated the synergies of politics and art.
Part of my story I owe to the energy and attitude of the musical and social movements of Punk, Hip Hop and Western avant grade film cultures. When I connected the angry mixed race kid from the village coming across the Dada movement as a young woman at art school it blew my mind. Punk and Hip Hop and more recently grime have taught me how to access the real freedom of self expression whilst living in structures of race, class and gender oppression. The D.I.Y cultures of (do-it-yourself), inventing language and sub-cultures of belonging have inspired and enabled me to both self-organise and hold space for others. Being a member of the collective Precarious workers brigade for best part of a decade has also taught me so much about the power of grass roots community organising and a politics from below. Noor Afshan Mirza
"I was the only one in my family born in the UK, and I identify with being a Londoner. Theres the countercultural, anti-establishment part of Britishness Ive often sided with, and then as Ive grown and travelled, theres this other side Ive discovered, the huge weight of power dynamics and colonial history. I have often found it hard to keep opening my eyes, but I know it is the only way I will keep learning. A wise man once told me: "You have to learn to laugh in the face of the absurdity". Making art is helping me like that, it is how I can process my feelings on my own terms". Brad Butler
Noor Mirza and Brad Butler, b. 1970 and 1973, London, UK.
Live and work between London, UK and Istanbul, Turkey. Recent exhibitions include; The Scar at the Delfina Foundation (2018); The Scar at HOME (2018); The Embassy of non Participation at The Sydney Biennale (2016); MIRRORCITY at the Hayward Gallery (2015); The Unreliable Narrator at the Whitechapel Gallery (2015); The New Deal at the Walker Art Centre (2013); Guest of Citation at Performa 13 (2013); The Museum of non Participation was nominated for the 2014/15 Artes Mundi 6 Award for visual artists who engage with the human condition, social reality and lived experience. They are the recipients of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Visual Arts 2015. Noor Afshan Mirza and Brad Butler were also the founders of the artist film and video space: no.w.here (2001-2018).