Re-imaging Donald Rodney

Have you ever considered that an archive can be a starting point for an exploration of personal, social and cultural identity? This Thursday, Vivid Projects will launch an exhibition and a series of events designed to illustrate the the potential of Donald Rodney's digital archive to do just this. 

Born in Birmingham to Jamaican parents in 1961, Rodney worked in a range of media including painting, installations, audio, robotics and film. His work focused on the issues surrounding the stereotyping of black men and the racial tensions to which he was exposed as he grew up. In his later years, he chose increasingly to incorporate his medical condition - that of sickle cell anaemia - into his artistic practice. He made considerable use of imagery such as blood samples, x-ray photographs and cell cultures not only to draw attention to the illness that was slowly destroying his body, but more importantly as a metaphor to signify the 'disease' that lay at the core of society. 

By the late 1990s, Rodney's disabling and life-limiting illness meant that he had to delegate key roles in the organisation and implementation of his artwork to others. Sadly, he died in 1998, shortly after initiating the AUTOICON project, a dynamic internet work that simulates Rodney's physical presence and creative aspects of his personality. It was developed by a group of his close friends and will be shown alongside a new work created directly in response to it. 

Doublethink (2015) is a bespoke online site designed and developed during workshops as part of a one-year research process involving members of Wolverhampton Sickle Cell Care and Activity Centre. There'll be a talk on 24 October at which Ian Sergeant and Antonio Roberts will explore the development of the 'beta' website, looking at some of the challenges of responding to another artist's digital legacy in a way that does justice to their work while at the same time developing their own creative angle on it. Why not go along to hear it?