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The artists worked together with a composer, choreographer, a choir and a group of actors to formulate a musical, which responded to specific locations in the city of Birmingham in England. Part one, Spilt Coffee, is responding to Brindley Place a new area in the city with offices, clubs, cafes, restaurants and galleries. The area is neighboring Ladywood, which has been listed as on of England’s poorest area with the highest unemployment rate in the country. Part 2, The Girl who doesn’t Fit is situated in a newly build high-end shopping mall in Birmingham which is neighboring Digbeth an industrial area in decline. Using the musical as a format the artists wanted to investigate the imagined space of the new developments with the reality of people who lived next to them.
The musical genre often creates a fantasy world into which disenfranchised characters enter a fantasy world or express the inequalities from which they suffer, like the characters in Oliver Twist or Hair. Like A Musical uses this same premise to site individuals from poor inner city neighborhoods in the context of new high-status developments, which mark a new local area in which they don’t belong according to the intended use of the developments.
The characters which were created for the musical move through out the city performing in a passionate and exaggerated way as they take over the space with dancing and singing. But the spectacle is lacking without the effects of the cinematic frame and orchestra. The video functions as a document to the performance combining footage from the rehearsals with hidden camera footage from the performance, which was only performed once without any announcement to the public.
Like a Musical was commissioned by Fierce International Performance Festival and presented with Ikon Gallery.
Reuben Henry (UK) has been collaborating with Karin Kihlberg (SE) since 2004. Using an interdisciplinary approach their work explores how documentation, representation, and narratives are utilised by contemporary culture as routes to comprehend and consume the contemporary paradigm. In 2009 they were awarded the first prize for the ASPEX Emergency 4 exhibition with their work Performance #1, #2 & #3. Other group exhibitions include Art Futures at Bloomberg Space, Art Summer University at Tate Modern, The 100 ideas Festival at Hayward Gallery, Please Excuse my Appearance at Ikon Gallery and Cut my Legs of and Call Me Shorty at Tensta Konsthall in Stockholm. They have exhibited in solo exhibitions at Citric Gallery in Italy, Centre des Arts Actuels SKOL in Canada as part of Les Mois de la Photo á Montréal and at Castlefield Gallery in Manchester, UK. Kihlberg and Henry were working as researchers in the fine art department at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, The Netherlands between 2009-11.
Karin Kihlberg (Sweden, 1978) & Reuben Henry (UK, 1979) are artists working with moving image based in London. They were fellows at the Jan van Eyck Academy in the Netherlands 2009-2010 and studied Fine Art BA in Birmingham 2001 where they ran the international residency programme Springhill Institute until 2008.
Recent solo exhibitions and screenings include Whitstable Biennale, Whitechapel Gallery, Fig-2 at the ICA, London, The Grundy Gallery, Blackpool, Camden Arts Centre and Danielle Arnaud Gallery, where they are represented. Their work has been screened at Oberhausen and Channels Film Festivals, Melbourne, and have made commissions for The Great North Run Moving Image Commission and FACT, Liverpool.