Karen Mirza and Brad Butler's multi-layered practice consists of filmmaking, drawing, installation, photography, performance, publishing and curating. Their work challenges terms such as participation, collaboration, the social turn and the traditional roles of the artist as producer and the audience as recipient.
Since 2007, Mirza and Butler have been developing a body of work entitled the Museum of non Participation. The artists have repeatedly found themselves embedded in pivotal moments of change, protest, non-alignment and debate. Experiencing such spaces of contestation both directly and through the network of art institutions, Mirza and Butler negotiate these influences in video, photography, text and action. Recent exhibitions include The Museum of non Participation: The New Deal at the Walker Art Centre (April - July 2013), Performa 13 (2013) and Derin Devlet (Deep State) at Galeri NON (Jan - Feb 2014). The Museum of non Participation is nominated for the Artes Mundi Award 2014 for visual artists who engage with the human condition, social reality and lived experience
In 2004, Mirza and Butler formed no.w.here, an artist-run organization that combines film production with critical dialogue about contemporary image making. It supports the production of artist works, runs workshops and critical discussions and actively curated performances, screenings, residencies, publications, events and exhibitions. www.no-w-here.org.uk no.w.here’s role as a cooperative environment is directly related to the centering of Mirza and Butler’s own practice upon collaboration, dialogue and the social.
Museum of non Participation dedicated website:
the Museum of non Participation
Karen Mirza and Brad Butler Early works 1998 - 2007
These emerged from their interest in seminal avant-garde film. Non Places (1999), for example, is a contemporary take on the constructivist films of the 1920s and in Where a Straight Line Meets a Curve (2003) the artists drew inspiration from the use of resonant frequencies from Alvin Lucier’s 'I am Sitting in a Room' (1970). Mirza / Butler often take a single visual observation as a point of departure, such as the space between tower blocks in The Space Between (2005), the gesture of performing a 360 degree walking rotation with a camera in Structural Constellation (2006) or the cinematic principles inherent in photo realist painting in The Glass Stare (2006). From these initial images, Mirza and Butler intertwine a range of visual and conceptual languages, combining analytical and experimental sequences to create open-ended works. This includes The autonomous object? (2009) The Museum of non Participation and The Exception and the Rule