Ashley Holmes

Cry Then Win Then Lose Reaction

27 October – 8 December 2018



Two Queens is delighted to announce the presentation of a newly-commissioned project by Ashley Holmes: Cry Then Win Then Lose Reaction.

The project is centered around the presentation of a multi-channel video installation informed by Holmes’ current research that attempts to dissect the legacy of collective activity within african diasporic communities. The work looks at new platforms of archive and documentation, focussing on the dynamics of performance in public spaces. Cry Then Win Then Lose Reaction is a close examination of a fractious dialogue and relationship between transatlantic Rap cultures and the secondary media of the internet reaction video. Holmes is interested in the varying roles assumed within these platforms and the unique bridge they provide between conversations around transatlantic understandings of Blackness.

In encountering the American hip hop fans’ online responses to new music, videos and freestyles (made by British artists of African and Caribbean heritage) internet audiences are provided a brief opportunity to witness a live process of understanding play out in front of them on-screen. The American reviews often begin tentatively – among other things they grapple with the language, the musical styles and performative aspects of what they are watching. Gradually, the reviewers become more animated and excitable as they start to understand the slang, rhythm, tone of voice and the musical elements of what they are watching.

The exhibition focuses on this process of exaggerated performative reaction, with a series of deconstructions of YouTube reviews that mirror a folding of the initial act of freestyle MC’ing – itself an act that is ordinarily removed from the artist’s discrete musical output and prioritises the notion of a one-time-only, unique event whereby the usually black, usually male body attempts to render its complexities in physical terms, through the language, delivery and visual affects of performance.

Cry Then Win Then Lose is based around platforms and conversations that become social commentary and facilitate cultural tradition – the formats of radio broadcasting and internet freestyles are heavily referenced by Holmes as a way of confronting how we might think about voyeuristic cultures within the term ‘raciology’ – a discourse that assumes certain stereotypes, prejudices, images and identities.

This exhibition is the second in a series of four projects at Two Queens across 2018-19 aimed at providing the opportunity for emerging artists to develop ambitious new projects through a supportive curatorial dialogue. The programme is made possible by public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England and De Montfort University.