The Prince of Homburg
This exhibition by British artist Patrick Staff will debut a major video installation and series of sculptural works reinterpreting 19th century German writer Heinrich Von Kleist's play The Prince of Homburg.
Opening with a disoriented Prince sleepwalking in royal gardens, the original play, written in 1810, develops by swift degrees into a personal nightmare that draws together questions about the limits of state control versus individual freedom. While some have interpreted this piece as an assertion of the might of authority, many others consider Kleist's work as a passionate defence of free will. The play was completed shortly before the author’s death by suicide in 1811, and this biographical detail has further informed scholarly opinion on this historical work.
In their new work Staff will strip the play back to focus on the symbol of the exhausted, sleepwalking figure as a political dissident. Presented as film installation with accompanying sculptural and collage works across the galleries, the work will document cycles of exhaustion, desire and repression that are embedded in many contemporary cultural and political crises. In a collision of documentary and fictive filmmaking, Staff will consider ideas of alienation, labour and sickness in society whilst exploring fraught spaces where queer desire can elicit dream-like transgressions of law and order.
Staff’s work has always tackled politically charged subject matter, blending both personal experiences with wider social issues. Their projects develop over a number of years, with influences and research developing from a broad range of disciplines to produce experimental film, video, installation and performance work.
The Prince of Homburg will initiate a dialogue about how history, technology, capitalism and the law have fundamentally transformed the social constitution of our bodies today. Through this work Staff will seek to contest current repressive structures in our society and speculate on alternative ways of moving through the present into a better future.
About the artist:
Patrick Staff (b.1987, Bognor Regis, England) lives and works in Los Angeles. Their work combines video installation, performance and publishing. They have exhibited extensively, gaining significant recognition and awards for their work which is held in private and public collections internationally. Staff received their BA in Fine Art and Contemporary Critical Studies from Goldsmiths University of London in 2009. They completed the LUX Associate Artists Programme and studied Contemporary Dance at The Place in London, in 2011. Their work has been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2017); New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (2017); Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (2016); Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver (2016); Serpentine Galleries, London (2015); Chisenhale Gallery, London (2015); Tate Liverpool, England (2014); Monte Vista Projects, Los Angeles (2012); Tate Modern, London (2012), and Whitstable Biennale, Whitstable, England (2012), among others. Staff’s 2017 film work Weed Killer was recently acquired by the Museum of Modern Art, New York.