Imran Perrettathe destructors, 2019

Outset Partners awarded a Grant to Chisenhale Gallery, Spike Island, the Whitworth and Baltic in support of Imran Perretta’s the destructors, a new moving-image commission developed in partnership with young people in Tower Hamlets and filmed at St Paul’s Way Trust Secondary School. In his most ambitious work to date, Perretta explores the complexity of adolescence for young British Muslims. He takes the ‘coming of age’ story perpetuated through the mainstream media to consider what forming a sense of identity means for young Muslims, growing up in a society that is conditioned to see their bodies as a threat, and reflects on timely issues of race, identity and marginalisation in contemporary Britain.

A series of closed workshops with a small number of young adults (Bangladeshi men aged 18-25) took place between December 2018 and April 2019 in collaboration with the Mile End Community Project, social justice charity Jawaab and the artist himself. The intention of the workshops was to develop conversations around identity, marginalisation, oppression and religion, initially in response to Perretta’s current body of work and that subsequently would facilitate creative outcomes for everyone involved. The final workshop was a close event hosted by Chisenhale Gallery and the co-commissioning partners where the creative responses were shared by the group and discussed. The responses of this session ranged from spoken word poetry to performance, photography and the moving image.  

The script for the film was finalised in April 2019 by the artist and is structured in response to the four headings of the Government Counter Terrorism Strategy, each presenting a slightly different perspective to experiences of marginalisation and oppression as a young British Muslim growing up in the UK. The shooting of the moving image work takes place at a community centre in Tower Hamlets, with a cast and crew of approximately 20 people and with Tasha Back as Director of Photography.  

This project provides a valuable professional development opportunity for Perretta through a sustained period of curatorial support and mentoring, working with four significant national institutions to present work across the UK and engage diverse audiences nationally through a programme of engagement activities.

the destructors is co-produced by Spike Island, Bristol – where the work premieres in September 2019 – and Chisenhale Gallery, London, where it will be shown in early 2020. It is co-commissioned by Chisenhale Gallery; Spike Island; the Whitworth, The University of Manchester; and BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Newcastle. This is the third major co-commission produced in partnership between Chisenhale Gallery, and Spike Island, and the second major co-commission in partnership with Chisenhale, Spike Island and the Whitworth. The partnership draws on each institution’s expertise in commissioning and producing new work and providing a sustained period of curatorial support, mentoring and guidance for artists. For the first time, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art joins as a fourth partner, and the work will tour to all partner venues across 2019 – 2020, presented as a major solo exhibition at each venue.

Imran Perretta b. 1988, lives and works in London. Working in moving image, sound, installation and performance, Imran Perretta’s work explores ideas of identity, migration and belonging, often informed by his family’s Bangladeshi heritage. In ‘DESH’ (2016), a moving image work filmed while in Bangladesh, Perretta represents the hotel room he was confined to during a hartal, or general strike, on the city. Considering the word Bangladesh, which means ‘Land of the Bengalis’, the work reflects on Perretta’s own feeling of anxiety in relation to his family’s home. In an earlier work, ‘Devotion’ (2014) an installation of objects, including Perretta’s grandmother’s prayer mat installed alongside burning incense, becomes a mediation on memory and loss. Perretta’s most recent moving image work, ’15 Days’ (2018), combines a script informed by conversations the artist had with a man displaced from the ‘jungle’ in Calais, with computer generated imagery of an abandoned tent and dispersed belongings. With the title alluding to the number of days since the narrator had been displaced, through the work Perretta confronts the audience with the complex experience of migration on an individual level. Often working in collaboration, Perretta’s work seeks to give voice to those marginalised in society. Through the use of computer generated imagery and proxies, Perretta deliberately obscures the characters within his work as a means to reflect on the impossibility of representing marginalised identities and whose image has been ‘othered’ by mainstream media. Perretta holds a BA in Architecture, Bartlett School of Architecture, University of College London (2010) and an MA in Fine Art from the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London (2014). Recent exhibitions include Unintended Consequences, Jerwood Space, London (2018); Mene Mene Tekel Parsin, Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge; brother to brother, Jerwood Space, London (both 2017); it wasn’t a crash, in the usual sense, Arcadia Missa, London (2016); 5 percent, Copenhagen Art Week, Denmark; and Devotions, MOT International Project Space, London (both 2015). Perretta was recipient of the Jerwood Visual Arts / Film and Video Umbrella Awards (2017). Perretta was selected for Bloomberg New Contemporaries, World Museum, Liverpool and ICA, London (2014–15); and The Red Mansion Prize, Dyson Gallery, RCA, London (2014). In 2016, Perretta presented Pale News, a performance devised in collaboration with artist Milo van der Maaden and members from the LGBTQ community in east London, as part of Chisenhale Gallery’s 21st Century programme of performances and events. In 2019 Perretta was also nominated for the The Film London Jarman Award.