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Just / Unjust

LEEDS: JUST/UNJUST IS AN ABSTRACT AND SURREAL PERFORMANCE PIECE INSPIRED BY FOLKLORE, WITCHCRAFT AND AN ELIZABETHAN WOOD CARVING ENTITLED DANCE OF DEATH.

Matty Bovan is curating and art directing Leeds' installation, working closely with artists Rory Mullen and Adam Leach on the concept. The installation has been inspired by a carved wooden chimney piece depicting the “Dance of Death” in the Red Drawing Room at Burton Agnes Hall, an Elizabethan manor house in Yorkshire. Titled Just/Unjust, it takes its name from the grouped figures standing on either side of the skeleton at the centre of the chimney piece: the Just, who are about to be received by angels, and the Unjust, who are about to be claimed by the devil. It is both unsettling and dramatic: an evocation of heightened emotional extremes.

Visitors will be confronted with a highly charged live tableau, comprising video projections, live performance and sculpture, created by fashion designer Matty Bovan and artists Rory Mullen and Adam Leach. Bovan has designed bespoke garments for the project, which are worn by the performers and also displayed on skeleton-like scarecrow sculptures formed from salvaged wood and found objects. Further found materials and other forms handmade by the artists allude to the carving’s symbols of earthly vanity – crowns, gold, money – and are stomped on and destroyed during the performances. Examples of these damaged objects will be presented in perspex cases on makeshift cabinets as enshrined relics from another time and world.

The aesthetic of the installation is inspired by British folklore, witchcraft and Aesop’s fables. The filmed acts of frenzied destruction, performed by Bovan, Leech and Mullen, will be projected on three large fabric screens strung up with parachute cords.

 Credits:

  • Designers: Matty Bovan, Rory Mullen and Adam Leach 
  • Sponsors: Leeds 2023, Leeds Beckett University