Larry Achiampong, Joseph Buckley, Kitty Clark, Sam Keogh, Hardeep Pandhal, Adam Sinclair and Jamie Sutcliffe.
Featuring The Diamond Dogs Educational Unit: Uma Breakdown, Petra Szemán, Larry Achiampong & Zara Truss Giles.
Curated by Jamie Sutcliffe.
‘Trouble In Outer Heaven: Portable Ops Plus’ focuses on the influence and fan cultures of ‘Metal Gear Solid’, one of the most popular video game franchises of all time.
Originally developed for the MSX Spectrum home computer by Hideo Kojima in 1987, ‘Metal Gear’s’ enigmatic story has been told through multiple installments over the course of three decades. Infamous for its distinct play style based upon techniques of secrecy, concealment and stealth, the franchise has pioneered boundary-breaking experiments in player participation, while building a global fanbase for its complicated narrative and strange characters.
Exploring the unnerving possibilities of biogenetic cloning and military espionage, off-shore para-states and the formation of private task forces charged with seizing power from the world’s collapsing democracies, ‘Metal Gear’s’ once bizarre mythos feels disturbingly appropriate to the world we inhabit in 2021.
Just as memes of the game’s iconic graphics have found their way into the culture wars surrounding the 2016 US presidential election, its prescient themes of behavioural manipulation, gamification, unstable truths and geopolitical subterfuge have been increasingly explored by academics; suggesting that ‘Metal Gear’s’ atmosphere of conspiracy and separatism has come to both predict and reflect our unstable global political climate.
From Seasteading* to the subcultural fracturing of online communities, difficult themes of social division are strangely encapsulated in the game’s martial utopia, ‘Outer Heaven’, an ambiguous separatist state of renegade soldiers and mercenaries. Confronting both the ecstasies and problems of fandom, this exhibition asks if critical counter-languages might be found within the intricate traceries of ‘Metal Gear’s’ peculiar brand of speculative fiction, its bleak vision of military oppression, and its potent ideas of hope, service, community and friendship.
‘Trouble In Outer Heaven: Portable Ops Plus’ brings together a group of artists whose early encounters with ‘Metal Gear’s’ unique vision and distinct poetics continue to influence their world-views and artistic practices today. Through performance, sculpture, film, and an education program for young people, the artists explore Kojima’s rich yet often troubling games as opportunities for thinking through positions of decolonial critique, ludic defiance, and anti-fascist resistance.
Trouble in Outer Heaven: Portable Ops Plus is made possible thanks to the support of The Paul & Louise Cooke Endowment, Arts Council England and Southwark Council.
Download the Exhibition Handout
Martin Herbert, Art Monthly 450: October 2021.
A new covert performance by Sam Keogh will take place during the opening event on September 12th at 4pm. The performance that draws upon Southwark Park’s history as a wartime munitions depot. No booking required, but we are limiting capacity to allow for safe social distancing.
Tactical Espionage Action In A Haunted House // Exhibition Tour
3-4pm Sunday 31 Oct // Lake Gallery // Limited capacity, no booking required.
Join exhibition curator Jamie Sutcliffe and exhibiting artist Kitty Clark for a walk-around conversation of ‘Trouble in Outer Heaven: Portable Ops Plus’. Covering the show’s themes and works, this informal talk will explore the politics of gaming, the awkwardness of making an exhibition as a fan, and each contributors’ personal history with the ‘Metal Gear’ franchise and other video games of note.
Human Planet User Presents: A Live Stream of ‘Metal Gear’ (1987) // 8pm on Wednesdays 22, 29 Sept, 6, 13 Oct
Watch live on: twitch.tv/human_planet_user
Over the course of the exhibition, Human Planet User a.k.a Kitty Clark, live streams her playing of Hideo Kojima’s ‘Metal Gear’
The Diamond Dogs Educational Unit //
Saturdays 25 Sept, 2, 9 & 23 Oct // 1-4pm each day // Dilston Gallery
To coincide with the exhibition ‘Trouble in Outer Heaven: Portable Ops Plus’, this programme for young people (13-19yrs) draws upon the influence of ‘Metal Gear’ to explore ideas of play, storytelling, animation, sound, and memory and is a fun way to achieve a Bronze or Silver Arts Award.
Led by artists Uma Breakdown, Petra Szemán, and Larry Achiampong & Zara Truss Giles across four sessions, participants will be encouraged to explore their love of films, games, cartoons, and soundtracks, and introduced to ways of making that might help them develop those interests into different kinds of art – from game design, to anime, and music!