Akeroyd Collection


Martine Syms, Ugly Plymouths, 2020

Ugly Plymouths takes the form of a one-act play, its title a riff on a phrase from the poem Hollywood by Beat poet Bob Kaufman. Separated onto 3 different screens, intimate footage of 3 protagonists interacting, colliding and coalescing as a cacophony. Sometimes discordant, sometimes in harmony, they sing, reflect on daily concerns, negotiate social arrangements, and leave intimate voice notes for one another. On the screens, that would usually be installed on poles in an immersive environment of flooded red light, we see combinations of found footage, archival film stock, reportage and what appears like personal footage from mobile phones. Long drives, museums, beaches, concerts, sports events, firework displays, police actions and selfies are occasionally cut off by pastel-coloured monochromes.

The pace of images and utterances reflects the digital age and the nature of how we communicate and maintain relationships in the contemporary world. The work positions these protagonists as vulnerable yet assertive, needy and yet independent, and exuberant yet exhausted. Symptoms perhaps of a digital age where communication is so possible and impossible at the same time, a contemporary vernacular of the street which Kaufman advocated and saw as a political poetics.

Medium3-channel video
Duration7 minutes 47 seconds
Editionof 5 + 1 AP