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Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’

‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’ will be the US-born artist Erik Blinderman’s first solo exhibition in the UK. Working predominantly with film and photography, the artist has developed a practice that shows a concern for the dislocation of time and place through unexpected narrative structures. Blinderman’s interest in Southend-on-Sea has also grown through regular visits during the last three years, and he has developed a body of work around the South Essex town that connects to recurring themes around duality and parallel histories. Interested in the construct of twin-towns, and the fact that Southend is now culturally connected to the Polish seaside resort of Sopot – part of a triad of conurbations that include Gdansk and Gdynia; a stretch of coastline called the ‘Tri-City’ – the artist provides a starting point for a rumination on community activism, world history, the transition since the break up of the Eastern Bloc from Communism to liberal democracy, together with its effects on culture and economics.

Like many other small British towns, Southend’s second most spoken language is now Polish, yet Blinderman’s research has led to other less-obvious connections between the two places. Being the principal municipality along the Thames Gateway, it has had a long history of industrialised printing for both the British and international economy. After speaking with a former local printer about his own involvement with an East London press, Blinderman learnt that the Polish labour movement Solidarity – a name synonymous with the democratic revolution in Eastern Europe twenty years ago – produced printed matter by using many South Essex presses, as a result of the continual political suppression by the prevailing Polish Communist government of the 1980s. Through its focus on displaced production, Blinderman’s project becomes relevant to this hidden historical and cultural link, as well as the contemporary super-abundance of free newspapers, which by contrast, is grounded in pure advertising, and lacks any obvious political agenda.

Open: Monday to Friday 9-7pm & Saturday 9-5pm

Focal Point Gallery / Southend Central Library, Victoria Avenue, Southend-on-Sea, Essex SS2 6EX
Tel: +44 (0)1702 534108