“Artists are so bizarre and come from such strange places”: Glenn Ligon interview below

Larry Achiampong and David Blandy, Finding Fanon 2 (2015)

If you play Grand Theft Auto you may be closer to understanding this piece than me. So far as I gather, both artists have had to play their way into all the footage which accompanies this film.

There’s not a stolen car in sight, mind you. The duo wear suits, rather than gang attire. They walk and run through lonely citycapes, some Romantic with a capital ‘r’, some apocalyptic with a small ‘a’.

Finding Fanon 2 grabs you from the opening set up as avatars for both artists fall to earth from a clear blue sky. They pedal limbs like upturned beetles, pick themselves up again like gods.

If this film were nothing more than a travelogue about virtual cities to be found in the GTA game franchise, it would already have a certain novel, uncanny appeal for non-gamers.

But there’s much more to it; the quest here  is not to become a crime lord, but to get closer to an understanding of philosopher Frantz Fanon, who advocated armed resistance to power.

As a former resident of Martinique and a member of the Algerian National Liberation Front, Fanon was most interested in fighting back against colonial powers. Britain is no longer one of these.

So where might Fanon, who died in 1961, be found now? Nigel Farage might have said he would don khaki and pick up a rifle in order to fight for Brexit. But the UK left is using ballots rather than bullets.

The battlefield is the media, both mainstream and social. Dark money and big data are the dangers. So where indeed is Fanon today? He would doubtless be on a terror watchlist.

But the artists remain optimistic. “Perhaps he’s waiting here,” says the VO, as they stride through the ghost town, “behind the polygons, behind the texture maps, through the fields of algorithms”.

Fanon might be found in one of GTA’s beautiful sunsets. Achiampong and Blandy watch our fiery star sink below the horizon. If the sun has sunk on Fanon’s day, we know it will come again.

Finding Fanon Trilogy was screened at Lighthouse in Brighton on 29 June 2017. More information about the artists can be found on the websites of David and Larry.



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