London-based artist Felix Melia’s solo exhibition Money for Nothing brings together the first exhibition presentation of his ambitious 35-minute film Money for Nothing (2021) with selections from Stages (2022 - ongoing), a new series of cyanotype patchworks.
A portrait of Melia’s friend Tim Akister, Money for Nothing follows Akister as he looks and finds, trawling scrap metal and salvaging bric-a-brac. Stitching Akister’s tall tales to their material traces, Melia excavates and reassembles a story that moves rhythmically from the 1970s to the present. Recovered treasures and the City of London’s steel and glass skyline, a looming presence in the East London horizon of Akister’s life, shimmer, refracting shifting conceptions of work and value. Cropping close, the camera guides our focus back towards Akister’s gestures and expressions.
Accompanying the film, cyanotype patchworks connect waterlogged imagery of undeveloped plots gone to seed, places that no longer exist and other sites of potential. Moments of abstraction in the images signal a different way of looking–a consideration of urban dynamics beyond a place’s face value. Exposed using sunlight and sensitive to further transformation the cyanotypes attend materially to cycles of destruction and renewal. A den of snakes slither across the patched scenes. Appearing to move between the canvases they mark thresholds, cross boundaries.
In Cell’s Reading Room, archival materials selected from MayDay Rooms’ collection by curator Jessie Krish reflect a historical context for Akister’s stories. Ephemera from housing struggles in Tower Hamlets during the Thatcher years–marked by the 1980 and 1988 UK Housing Acts which brought an end to majority council tenancy in the borough, and sparked community mobilisations including mass squatting–points to local memory and forgetfulness in relation to housing and community. A public programme will expand on how unequal access to housing shapes experiences of community in East London today.
Curator Jessie Krish
Felix Melia combines moving image, writing, installation and performance to address notions of public and private space, intimacy and agency. He explores the ways we perceive, move through and dwell in our environments. Selected presentations include Money For Nothing (screening), TOWNER Eastbourne, 2022; Public Displays of Affection, Jupiter Woods, London, 2017; Moving Sickness, De Ateliers, Amsterdam, 2017; Writer in Residence, Whitechapel Gallery, London, 2016; Ozu’s Arsehole, Interstate Projects, New York, 2016; The Inhalation Show, ANDOR Gallery, London, 2016; Shoulder Blades (commissioned by Serpentine Galleries), Hackney Picture house, London and Govett Brewster, New Zealand, 2016.