Opening

Thursday, 12 March, 6-8pm

Opening hours: currently closed


tongue

Not open anymore for the obvious reason

Henry Bradley

Ends 28 March 2020

tongue shows a trilogy of films that observe and dramatise niche educational programmes and surgical procedures designed to improve English pronunciation and entrepreneurial performance within globalised contemporary work environments.
In the films, speech and behaviour are recognised as bodily sites that can, and must, be adapted in order to perform sufficiently in a climate of expected English language skills and self-employment requirements. They document and depict the act of learning as participants adapt themself to alternate or dominant forms of behaviour, whether through private courses in GLOSSOLALIA and Rhythming, or in the case of Frenulum, physical surgery. Specifically, intentionally, and potentially unavoidably, the gaze of the videos sits on the threshold of asking when these services become spaces in which the participant develops agency or alternatively becomes habituated. Aware it’s neither solely one or the other, the works situate themselves on the threshold of this dichotomy, asking how these educational or medicinal situations can help reflect the complex social, economic, and political, pressures, anxieties and desires at play in wider aspects of society. As these are highlighted, the reasons for the participants attending or undergoing the service become clearer, in turn revealing how these reasons have consequentially opened up new gaps in the educational and medical market.


Rhythming, 34m, HD Video, 2018

Rhythming updates Harun Farocki’s ‘The Interview’ (1996), re-staging a Small Talk and Storytelling class for entrepreneurs on a specifically built stage in an old East German cotton-mill warehouse. It highlights how practices of storytelling, commonly adopted by large scale advertising projects, have now become frequent practices by which the contemporary individual worker can sell and understand themselves.
A drum track accompanies the moment the workers and teacher move behind the scenes, denaturalising the educational situation taking place; they now occupy the infrastructure of the film logistics, such as changing clothes for new scenes or being paid for their labour.
Furthermore, working fluidly across forms of documentary and fiction, with both actors and non-actors, all three films use the conventions of observational cinema and theatre as tools to stage, re-stage and navigate through the different levels of performance taking place in the subject matter itself. With both education and medicine as commonly private spaces, the camera takes on a voyeuristic feeling even when the class, such as in Rhythming, has obviously been re-staged.

Set-up for: 'Rhythming', HD Video, 34m, 2018

Set-up for: 'Rhythming', HD Video, 34m, 2018


GLOSSOLALIA, 53m, HD Video, 2017

GLOSSOLALIA parallels a method acting class, in which actors are trained to access and utilise their unconscious and irrational nature, alongside an Accent Softening Course for Business, whereby international workers learn the ‘Standard English’ accent so as to help further their careers in the UK.
Interspersed throughout are a series of scenes, including children learning phonics and reciting an absurd poem inspired by Jorge Luis Borges, and a contortionist rehearsing, that further questions our relationship to language, meaning and pedagogy. Set on a single stage in East London, the film creates a microcosm aspects of contemporary Britain and modern work at the time of filming.

GLOSSOLALIA, 53m, HD Video, 2017

GLOSSOLALIA, 53m, HD Video, 2017


Frenulum, 4m, HD Video, 2020 

Frenulum dramatises a real-life controversial operation, following eight children as they perform imaginary tongue surgery on a member of their group, in order to help them speak phonetic sounds from the English language better.
The operation (called a lingual frenectomy) is common across the globe. However, in certain countries such as South Korea, where demand for English is extremely strong, it is used for a distinctive reason of helping children reach specific English sounds better. Widely disputed by health professionals and local authorities as a suitable procedure for such a goal, the practice represents some of the pressures to perfect the English language for future career and life opportunities. It also signifies a wider contemporary phenomena at play of disregarding medical advice in favour of socio-political views, pressures and narratives.
Frenulum
, evacuating any adults from the situation, dramatises this encounter, leaving open the question as to why the children are self-performing such a procedure, and in the process politicises notions of children’s games and play. The film also asks what it means to become part of a group, and at what thresholds we may justify or participate in physically altering someones body to conform to certain group attributes, whether necessary or ideological.

Frenulum, 4m, HD Video, 2020

Frenulum, 4m, HD Video, 2020

Unfortunately, we can't show Frenulum as it has to be first screened on BBC


In the exhibition at PS², the works are installed on three sculptural platforms that allude to the aesthetics and form of common educational environments. However, they also serve to position the viewer, and more specifically the act of looking, as a central component to cinema, elevating the audience to become a set of bodies to be viewed as much as the work itself whilst they watch.

Henry Bradley (b. 1991) works in video, performance, and installation. His research and work deals with the physical manifestation of economic ideals, managerial techniques and environmental shifts on the human voice, speech, and behaviour. In 2017 he graduated from the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths University, and has undertaken exhibitions, commissions, and residencies across Europe with, ICA, London; BBC, UK; Jerwood Arts, London; Fondazione Prada, Venice; HALLE 14 Centre for Contemporary Art, Leipzig; Arts Catalyst, London; AUF AEG, Nuremberg; UK Young Artists, UK; Resina, Italy; Salt Project Collective, Italy; ArtLicks, London.


Image top: Henry Bradley- GLOSSOLALIA, film still