Peckham Space is pleased to present Mobile Suit Academy, an exhibition of new work by David Blandy which will transform the gallery into a futuristic environment evoking the interior of a starship travelling through distant galaxies and runs from 18 January – 24 March 2013.
This immersive installation will invite visitors to enter a world populated by robotic ‘Mobile Suits’ – a term widely used in Japanese Manga which refers to large wearable exoskeletons worn by characters on epic adventures. Visitors will be able to explore the bridge of a cartoon-like spacecraft which appears to exist in both outer space and the real world of SE15 at once.
Embedded in the control panels of the shuttle will be video screens showing humorous and poignant animated stories set against the backdrop of an alternative Peckham. These animations will star the alter-egos of students at Harris Academy @ Peckham inhabiting their own invented Mobile Suits.
Blandy worked with these students during Autumn 2012, inspiring them to get inside their own metaphorical Mobile Suits and explore stories of their potential lives. Working with professional Manga artist Inko, a long-time collaborator of Blandy’s, the students created exaggerated self-portraits to star in the tales from this animated world, incorporating visual elements from the Academy, Peckham High Street and the local area.
An artist who often uses Manga and animation in his film and performance works, Blandy’s work investigates the cultural forces that inform and influence him. Often the subject of his works, he uses the concept of alternative identities to explore ideas of authenticity and experience.
David Blandy said: “The idea of designing huge Mobile Suits is an attempt to take the young people out of their usual conception of themselves, to build something that represents their self-image through the distorting lens of Japanese Anime. I wanted the participants to think about themselves and their environment, how Peckham is a factor in shaping their lives.
I also thought the Mobile Suit was an interesting metaphor for the way we construct an external identity to shield our vulnerable selves. Being a teenager is a time of flux, trying on different identities to see how they fit. They are often the pilots of Mobile Suits in the Japanese anime that I am referencing, their emotional issues impacting on their adventures, just as street life often impacts on school life. The Mobile Suit Academy is a search for self in sometimes adverse conditions.”