One of the world’s most consistently exciting and iconoclastic visual artists, Mark Leckey has always drawn heavily from music. UK post-punk and rave culture in particular have been the foundations for some of his most striking creations - amongst them his video work Fiorruci Made Me Hardcore, which has been called ’the definitive view of British nightlife". The broadly musical ideas of remixing, sampling and recreating are constants in Leckey’s work. From disembodied reggae soundsystems installed in white-cube galleries to post-Artificial Intelligence computer graphics, and spectral light boxes featuring none other than a familiarly voluptuous and bikini-clad Richard D. James, it was perhaps only a matter of time before a full-blown collaboration with Warp materialised.
Leckey’s 2017 exhibition Bridge Age Regression mutated out of the large-scale survey of his work shown at New York’s MoMA PS1, and is a refracted view of his memories and internal mythologizing of a motorway bridge on the M53 in Birkenhead near his childhood home. Life-size portions of overpass, a scale model and sodium-lamp lighting all create a hallucinatory ‘bridge’ (natch) into Leckey’s twisted mind…"The orange sodium lights are called Sox Lamps and they were installed everywhere up until the 1990s, I think. They’ve been phased out now. The Lucozade glow they give off was always an indicator that you were coming up on magic mushrooms, psychedelics would amplify that colour saturation, or rather that leaching out of all other colour. I want the lamps to do the same thing… put you in that altered state.”
And then the show’s soundtrack kicks in. As if from a decrepit punk band who’s just discovered a stack of scratched grime white-labels, a modern incarnation of the suburban occult issues forth…all lurching industrial electronics, faltering riddims and Leckey’s tin-foil-hat conjuring. The throaty refrain of ‘out demons, out!’ hoping to exorcise the malignant spirits, real and imagined, that seem to have come out of the woodwork of contemporary Britain. As Leckey describes it, “a kind of ritual chant made modern”.
From Birkenhead, it’s a quick shot south to Ellesmere Port where fellow local boy Evian Christ also hails from. It’s no wonder with such geographic synergy that the two artists would draw from similar pools of degraded rave echoes to inform their work, and here Evian Christ applies this to Leckey’s original for a remix that drags it kicking and screaming onto the dance floor of one his vaunted and chaotic Trance Parties.
When asked how he hoped the audience would feel after experiencing the exhibit Leckey says, "Nauseous and gassy? Elated and euphoric? Disabused of their shibboleths, fonder of bridges, drained?"