Born in 1960, Keith Piper first exhibited in 1981 as a member of the BLK Art Group, an association of black British art students, mostly based in the West Midlands region of the UK.
In a series of exhibitions entitled 'The Pan African Connection', members of the group including Eddie Chambers, Claudette Johnson and Donald Rodney, sought to explore issues relevant to aspects of black political struggles through contemporary art practice.
Following the dissolution of the Blk Art Group in 1984, Piper continued to work within the context of the developing wave of black British artists who were to emerge during the 1980's.
During the mid 1980's Pipers work developed around an exploration of multi-media elements such as tape/slide, sound and video within an Installation based practice. This would go on to embrace the use of computers as a means of collaging images and sounds and constructing video installation.
Throughout the 1990's Piper has continued to explore the various applications of digital technologies within an issue based fine art practice. This has recently included the development of interactive installation based work, CD-Rom and Web site construction. He is currently working on a major project entitled 'Relocating the Remains' commissioned by InIVA (The Institute of International Visual Arts).
Collection; 1. the act or process of collecting. 2. a number of things collected or assembled together. 3. something gathered into a mass or pile.
'Relocating the Remains', is a project which sets out to echo the concept of the 'expedition'. Not the 'expedition' in any high colonialist sense; the expedition which saw the power to survey, map and record as a prelude to subjugation and annexation under the hegemony of some imperialist power. More 'expedition' in the sense of an individual's exploration of a landscape across which others have past, leaving fragmented remains, traces and ephemera. It becomes therefore, 'expedition' in the sense of ones efforts to uncover and decipher, to accumulate, translate and relocate the remains.
A Smudge, A Fragment & A Whisper.
In the case of this project, the act of 'relocation' takes on multiple meanings. In a literal sense, the relocation becomes from physical to virtual space. The remains of objects, activities and idea's which at one time exclusively occupied the cold space of galleries and other places designated for the display of art, have become disembodied, recoded into digital form. At points these remains are compacted onto CD-Rom , at others they are set adrift onto the virtual expanses of the Internet.
We have the choice of relocating the remains which lie beyond three virtual gateways. The first gateway is called "UnMapped". The Second is called "UnRecorded", the third is called "Unclassified". Beyond "UnMapped" lies an investigation of the various perceptions of the black body as defined beneath the dominant gaze. "UnRecorded" examines the gaps in historical narratives which continue to distort and obscure black presence. "UnClassified" centres around an examination of the impact of new technologies on surveillance and policing, especially in relation to notions of community, nation and cultural difference.