Perhaps the only way forward is to go back?†
Firstsite, Colchester, is delighted to present A New Life in Frigg, an exhibition by the artist and graphic designer Scott King. In the show King invites visitors to the ctional town of Frigg, which is based on the former Butlins holiday camp at Clacton-on-Sea, Essex††. It is part of the artist’s ongoing Butlins-inspired series Britlin’s – a combination of the words ‘Britain’ and ‘Butlins’ – that plays with the power of collective nostalgia to reimagine a new society modeled on an idealised vision of the past.
A New Life in Frigg explores the idea of the 1970s holiday camp as utopian micro-societies, remembered through the colourful, hyperreal photography that was used on promotional postcards. Produced by the John Hinde Studio, these elaborately staged and cinematically lit images have informed the ironic euphoria of Britlin’s’ design vocabulary. Reinforcing the mythologising aspect, the four proposed Britlin’s new towns are named after Anglo-Saxon gods: Frigg, Saxnot, Balder and Loki. Frigg is the goddess of love and wife of Odin, father of the gods.
The exhibition at Firstsite is informed by audio recordings and video footage held at Essex Records Of ce and the East Anglian Film Archives. It is comprised of a wall-based map of the proposed Frigg township, as well as questionnaires for visitors to ll out that set up satirical scenarios to consider one’s suitability to join the Britlin’s community.
Included is a new lm commissioned by Firstsite for this exhibition, entitled Come to Frigg, which has been produced in collaboration with lmmaker Paul Kelly. The lm acts as a sales pitch for the Britlin’s vision, persuading the viewer (and potential resident) of its ethos and communitarian agenda.
Building on recent presentations at Reading International and Studio Voltaire, London, A New Life in Frigg is part of the artist’s ongoing examination of the mechanisms of collective nostalgia and the poetics and politics they give rise to. In taking the holiday camp as a template for a model society, King constructs an absurdist design for a new Britain.
The exhibition presents a sardonic look at real and imagined notions of the past set in the context of divisive politics and contemporary forms of nationalism. It playfully observes how culture is deployed as an instrument of regeneration – a mechanism seen in seaside towns in the southeast of England.
A New Life in Frigg Do you remember: When you knew your neighbours? When shop assistants were not machines? When you could still telephone your bank? When a holiday was at home, not abroad? When summer seemed to last forever? When you felt that you belonged? If you answered YES to any of these questions... There may be a place for YOU in Frigg.
Scott King (b. 1969, Goole, UK) lives and works in London. He was art director of i-D magazine and creative director of Sleazenation magazine, and he has collaborated with many in uential gures including the Pet Shop Boys, Michael Clark, Malcolm McLaren and Suicide. King’s work has been exhibited worldwide in both commercial galleries and institutions. Recent solo exhibitions include: Welcome to Saxnot, Studio Voltaire, London (2017); CRASH! presents A Better Britain II: Britlins, Reading International, Reading (with Matthew Worley, 2017); and Anish and Antony take Afghanistan, Herald St, London (2015). He has also produced several books including Britlins (2017), Public Art (2016), Anish & Antony Take Afghanistan (2014), Art Works (2010) and Anxiety & Depression (2009).