I have been living in Manchester for a year now and thought I had already discovered every single cultural institution – but I was proven wrong when I crossed the River Irwell, which separates Manchester from Salford, for the first time. Located within a residential area on East Philipp Street I found Paradise Works. Describing itself as an “independent, artist-led initiative providing studio and project space”, their focus is on forming and shaping city development with a sustainable artistic approach.
To enter the space, you have to ring the bell and wait until someone opens the door. Don’t be put off – the welcome is warm and friendly.
Across the two floors you can find the studios of 36 contemporary artists and an exhibition space which currently displays ‘MILLENNIALISM’.
This exhibition features a group of 10 artists: Chris Alton, Shy Bairns, Alexander Glass, Richard Hughes, Lilli Mathod, Jade Monsterrat, Karanjit Panesar, Emily Pope, TV Babies and Romily Alice Walden. Each artist explores the different influences that shape “an artist in the era of the millennial”.
Millennials are the generation born between the early 80s and late 90s. As such they grew up in the age of the technological boom but, compared with Gen Z, they are (more or less) familiar with the analogue times as well. They have experienced the changes in technology and are, therefore, aware of the advantages and disadvantages. Being online 24/7 has made our life so much easier but also so much more complicated. Lack of privacy has become a big issue, as well as increased stress levels and mental health issues.
This is portrayed in the beginning of the exhibition. On a white wall there’s an arrow chart interlinking typical challenges and realities that Millennials are facing. For example, “increased opportunities”, “lack of time”, “anxiety” or “more distractions”.
Visitors are encouraged to extend the chart themselves by writing their own opinions on the wall. There is also an iPad where visitors are asked in the form of messages to reveal their thoughts about the show. This tries to stimulate debate, give visitors a chance to contribute to the show and present their own perspective.
The same focus goes throughout the exhibition, which consists of video installations as well as prints and sculptures. One video installation puts the viewer in the scenario of a speed networking event, wherein different types of networkers are displayed: the “aggressive business card dealer”, the “insecure fly on the wall”, or the “occasional burnout professional”.
This exhibition, then, is incredibly pertinent for Millennials like myself. Personally, I was able to identify similarities between many parts of the exhibition and my daily life, and that of my peers. Throughout university, “grow your network”, “after graduation” or “good for your CV” have been terms constantly repeated. But, needless to say, as with every generation, we have our own set of challenges and advantages.
The exhibit is curated by Will Marshall and Emily Simpson and is on display until the 26th of October.