In an era defined by buzzwords, we are encouraged to “participate,” to “engage,” to become an “active citizen,” but these messages are often being delivered top down, quite often entirely oblivious to genuine acts of real citizenship and participation, sometimes radical in their discretion. So the changing nature of the civic, against a backdrop of public sector decline and austerity becomes very loaded and often manipulated. We have the citizen at local, everyday level; the relationship between the individual, the locality and the institution, the precarity of being a citizen—a resident, often living in an insecure tenancy, in a temporary way or in a rapidly changing urban environment. How can we invest, contribute or react to these contexts with such precarity, with the new worrying trend of being an active citizen becoming a marketable device? Small alterations to the public realm, to the inherited instructions, to create desire and playfulness in amongst fragility.
Verity-Jane Keefe is a visual artist working predominantly in the public realm to explore the complex relationship between people and place. She is interested in the role of the artist within urban regeneration and how experiential practice can touch upon and raise ambitions of existing and invisible communities. She has an ongoing, accidental love affair with Outer London. She works with moving image, text and installation. verityjanekeefe.co.uk | @veritykeefe