23 September – 16 October 2010
The Last Tape was commissioned for the first midlands solo show from British artist Haroon Mirza, winner of the 2011 Northern art Prize and acclaimed for his presentation for British Art Show 7. Filmed on location in VIVID’s atmospheric garage space in Birmingham’s industrial Eastside district, the work, comprising film and sculptural assemblage, brings Krapp’s Last Tape, a one-act play written by Samuel Beckett, into dialogue with Mirza’s exploration of post-punk pioneers Joy Division.
The Last Tape features actor and musician Richard ‘Kid’ Strange, and is a reinterpretation of Beckett’s play in which its protagonist, Krapp, looks back at the events of his life as recorded onto tape each birthday. Using previously unrecorded lyrics written by Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis, the film depicts Strange enacting the lyrics onto magnetic tape. Strange engages with both the lyrical content and the audible sounds created by the accompanying sculptural works, which includes furniture, turntable, radio and LCD screen stripped of its backlight and casing, in a performative manner. An awkwardly balanced strobe intermittently illuminates the screen, indirectly referencing Curtis’ epilepsy.