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Exhibition: John Ayscough - The Real

12 July 2019 until 27 July 2019
The Worm

‘Reality presented through fiction NOT fiction presented as reality’ is the manifesto proposal of ‘The Real’: a political party in inverted commas, created by artist and activist John Ayscough. Despite being a fictional entity, ‘The Real’ is a robust challenge to the British two party system and a credible, fair alternative in contrast to the slumped remains of our current democracy.

Aberdeen is the first to host ‘The Real’, a project that will continue to develop, through gallery exhibitions and public events, as it crosses Britain. At Worm the fictional party’s ideology is presented through artworks: posters, photographs, paintings and neon. The programme includes an artist-led workshop that encourages people to plant flags stating ‘This is ours’ on things that we own in common as citizens, such as police cars, court houses, paintings in public collections, and council buildings.

By creating a fictional political party, Ayscough uses metaphor, hyperbole and satire as a method to playfully examine what political parties are for and how they operate. For John Ayscough, art and politics are not diametrically opposed. Art and material culture sit within systems that are social, economic, environmental and also political. Ignoring the political dimension of art would not deny the existence of politics in art, but would rather constitute a clear political stance that advances the status quo.

Between the 17th Century and now, citizens of Scotland have lost most of their common lands due to privatisation, appropriation, corruption and legal trickery. Against the backdrop of this loss, we are now seeing a surge in nationalist and anti-migration movements, as well as a loss of biodiversity, climate breakdown and the erosion of the public and civic sphere. On the 700th anniversary of the Stocket Charter, which gave way to Aberdeen’s Common Good Fund, ‘The Real’ is an invitation to us — the citizens of Aberdeen — to gather and think about what matters to us and what belongs to us collectively. Through this fiction, we can discuss how to protect what we own together, and to act in reality to prevent its appropriation for the benefit of the few.