Cabaret Futura

Tom HumphreysJonty LeesHaroon MirzaRichard Kid Strange

06.09.200820.09.2021

Cabaret Futura suggests a future so clearly set in the past. It takes its name directly from the former Soho club of the 1980’s founded by Richard ‘Kid’ Strange. His concept for the club was influenced by New York’s Kitchen, PS1 and The Franklin Furnace, which evolved into a hot house of collaborative and fringe music inside a mutated European Cabaret environment.

Jonty Lees, Cabaret Futura, Cell Project Space
Jonty Lees, Cabaret Futura, Cell Project Space

The club’s name suggests its oxymoronic undertones combining the electronic sounds of the then new post punk music scene with live performance and a more underground mood of the vintage Berlin model immortalised, if not invented by, Auden and Isherwood. This exhibition will reflect much of the anticipation and the sentiment of ‘the happening’ ; an exhibition about the performance and its aftermath. The title is the underlying subtext for the show. All the works here either emerge via their sinuous percussion or an assemblage which suggests a playful intervention, experimental, inquisitive and open ended.

Haroon Mirza works with a concoction of sculpture, video and audio installation. He merges elements that are typically regarded as incompatible and/or dangerous when combined: water and electricity, vintage furniture and fairy lights, Pachabel’s Canon and glitchy hypnotic beats, which chillingly conjure the urban wilderness of the distortion and weird sound effects of audio equipment in housing estates or the drenched echo of piped music in shopping malls. His compositions weave between electronic and analogue sound. Part of the exhibition will include a unique collaboration where Richard ‘Kid’ Strange will perform live as part of Haroon’s Mirza’s ensemble, contemplating ideas generated by the occult films of Kenneth Anger and Ken Russell

Haroon Mirza graduated from the Chelsea MA programme last year and after following a period of research, which he undertook in Pakistan has moved to Sheffield where he currently lives and works. His practice has been documented in RADAR in Art Kunst Magasin by Felix Krämer, curator of Hamburger Kunsthalle, Germany and he is to be included in ‘More Pricks than Kicks’, Generator Projects, Dundee and the ‘2008 New Contemporaries’ to open as part of the Liverpool Biennale. Previous shows in 2007 include ‘Noise Reduction: off’, Dreizehnzwei, Vienna and ‘Working Things Out’, Spike Island, Bristol.

Richard Strange, actor, writer, and musician, was the lead singer of the now disbanded ‘Doctors of Madness’, one of the few British bands who could credibly claim to be called 'proto-punk'. The band’s wall of white noise and feedback were the harmonic equivalent of bare-knuckle fighting. Since the band’s break up Strange has worked with a range of acclaimed film directors and artists from Tim Burton to Marianne Faithfull, Harmony Korine to Martin Scorsese. His critically acclaimed memoir ‘Strange- Punks and Drunks and Flicks and Kicks’ was published by Andre Deutsch in 2004

Working in sculpture, video and installation, Jonty Lees’ series of sonic interventions have the lightness of touch, experimenting with the percussive noise of everyday objects and the familiar material of life. This effortless economy and complex nature of representation is at the heart of Lees work. Stemming from impatience and boredom sentiments associated with 90s rave culture there is always a playful and imaginative access route between each work and its audience. Lees is known for interfering with a space to create a concoction of unrest revisiting the gadgets and games of childhood memories or those poetic moments of daydreams.

Jonty Lees lives and works in Cornwall and has recently undertaken an Artist Residency progemme at Tate St Ives, culminating in a solo show with documented catalogue essays by Martin Clark and Michael Archer. In 2006 he had a solo exhibition at Moot, Nottingham and has recently been included in the Nought to Sixty programme at the ICA, London in a unique multi-layered event involving installation, performance and documentation organised by writer & curator Andrew Hunt.

Tom Humphreys works with classic ideas of formal language, although his attitudes towards production demonstrate a refusal of the ideology of adopting a fixed artistic position. He utilizes the archetypal framework of modernism i.e. the frame, pedestal, and canvas where the recognizable fabric of display becomes the work itself. As artist, curator he incorporates the cultural and social form of the exhibition as a means of genererating chains of reference. His work, often ‘unfinished’ in appearance seeks to explore the artist interest in the ideas to do with taste, and that whether or not something exists or is true. Tom Humphreys was the founder of Flaca, London, where he developed a program of international exhibitions and events.

He has recently shown in group exhibitions at Carl Freedman and The Approach E2 Gallery and has exhibited internationally at Mezzanin Galerie, Vienna and Croy Nielsen Gallerie, Berlin. Humphreys lives and works in London.