UP:RISE re-casts August 2011 as a key formative moment of 21st Century Britain. 2011’s uprisings were widely reported as the senseless sacking and looting of property by mindless youth fuelled by opportunistic material greed and BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) encryption.
UP:RISE takes a critical and provocative position, re-examining this portrayal and the legacies of August 2011 on the past 10 years. The work and its nationwide public exhibition also reflects on Britain’s postwar tradition of violent civil unrest and community uprisings sparked by police violence, fanned by social deprivation and racial animosity. With access to public space and social life restricted by the pandemic, UP:RISE seeks to expand the notion of what public art can be. By engaging digitally with non-traditional audiences that previously have been excluded from such conversations, UP:RISE marks a step change in the conception of public and community art practice in the digital era. Baff Akoto’s AR artwork and accompanying nationwide public exhibition reflects on the UK’s past, present and future. In rendering this new model of public art, Akoto encourages social critique and community engagement by exploring charged social histories while speculating around our shared digital futures.