Figures is a mass-sculptural performance that will make visible the human cost of austerity and urge action against it.
Over a period of 12 consecutive days and nights, on the foreshore of the Thames, artist-activist Liz Crow will sculpt 650 small human figures from excavated raw river mud, each one representing an individual at the sharp end of austerity. The number echoes the 650 constituencies throughout which the effects of austerity are felt, as well as the number of MPs whose choices determine those of others.
Once dried, the figures will be toured en masse in a mobile exhibition that will visit city centres along the route of the M4, from west of Bristol to London, over five days, the figures creating a talking point to involve diverse members of the public in discussion about the questions raised by the work.
In London, the figures will be returned to the foreshore and raised into a cairn. A bonfire will burn into the night, firing the figures, while their corresponding stories of austerity are read aloud, until the returning tide douses the flames. At first light, the figures, fired, burned and broken, will be reclaimed, gathered and ground down to dust.
In the final phase of the performance and on the first day of the new government’s tenure, the ground remains of the figures will be scattered from a tugboat on the Thames alongside Parliament. Figures will end with a poignant reminder of the human cost of austerity and a completion of the lifecycle of the work.
The 650 stories of people at the sharp end of austerity, across a range of topics, including benefits reform, local authority spending, homelessness, malnutrition, NHS rationing, etc, will be read whilst the bonfire burns into the night. Alongside this ‘roll call’ of experience, the project team will engage members of the public in discussion about the issues raised by the work.
Timed to coincide with the UK general election and subsequent newly-formed government, Figures will raise profound questions about how we treat each other, what kind of society we want to be, and what role we might each of us have in bringing that about.
Our Crowd-funding campaign needs your support
We are currently raising funds via our Crowd-funding campaign – Figures – and we need your help.
Donations are very gratefully received via our Zequs campaign page and we are making available a selection of unique pieces and experiences from the project. Your investment in the Figures will enable us to see the project through to completion and hopefully make an impact. Our intention is for Figures to build strong emotional connections with difficult facts, in order to encourage deep questioning and debate that will continue long after the work is over. Whilst art does not make social change, Figures can open doors, communicating ideas of social justice and moving audiences to search for solutions. With your help, we can all help towards making a change.
You can also lend us your support by helping us to promote the project on social media – please follow @RGPLizCrow on twitter and encourage people to join the conversation.