Lucy Parker @ Rhubaba

Lucy Parker presents a year's research into the illicit practice of blacklisting employees in the construction industry. It's an informative, timely and interestingly framed exhibition of her gathered materials.

Review by Adam Benmakhlouf | 03 Dec 2015

Video interviews with blacklisted construction workers sit alongside the official documentation surrounding the recent revelation of this practice. In 2009, a blacklist containing upwards of 3,200 names was discovered. Passed between construction companies, it ensured that individuals with ideas of unifying the workforce in any way would be known and punished with unemployment in the sector.

In this exhibition Lucy Parker presents the findings of a year of research into the practice. Suggestions are also made as to appropriate aesthetic strategies and the forms a film on the subject may take. For this reason, there are manuals and video tutorials on jump cuts and double exposures, alongside more straightforward texts on the practice and consequences of blacklisting.

Official governmental documents that are presented in the space are parts of reports and records. Their expression and syntax is almost impenetrable. This particular kind of obfuscation is presented alongside the much more accessible video interviews. In these, Parker interviews some of the affected people, who narrate and reflect on their particular hardships.

In one video work, Parker records a creative writing workshop in which a blacklisted person describes extreme difficulties in obtaining work. His writing is then analysed and criticised, with suggestions for bettering the work. There’s discomfort, for some members of the group, in editing notes taken at the time of the difficult events. What’s most important, according to one participant, is that the story is given its most effective form.

Parker subtly questions the validity of re-presentations that have been made by different genres of documentary sources, whether her own videos, testimonies by those involved or bureaucratic expressions. With so many lost and unhelpful sources of information surrounding the illicit practice of blacklisting, information comes ready processed and with some loss. In a context already saturated by myriad conflicting public and private demands, Parker rightly takes more care with the look and form of her future film rather than putting faith in a drily documentary objectivity.

Lucy Parker's Blacklisted continues in Rhubaba Gallery until 6 December.