Serpentine presents Radio Ballads

Serpentine and the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham are partnering to present Radio Ballads, a multi-narrative exhibition showcasing a ground-breaking project that has embedded artists within core social care services and community settings across the borough.

Over the last three years, four artists, Helen Cammock (Turner Prize winner 2019), Rory Pilgrim (Prix de Rome 2020), Ilona Sagar (Stanley Picker Fellow 2021, Saastamoinen Foundation 2022) and Sonia Boyce (representing the UK at the Venice Biennale in 2022) have worked with social workers, carers, organisers and communities to produce four new films and bodies of research, facilitated through the council’s New Town Culture programme. The pioneering, collaborative artworks explore ideas of labour and care, exploring who cares for who, and in what way.

Each artist will present a major new film resulting from their work in the borough in the Radio Ballads exhibition which will go on show in the Serpentine North Gallery opening on 31 March 2022 with a show in Barking Town Hall from 2 – 17 April 2021. The commissions will be shown alongside paintings, drawings and contextual materials.

Developed and sustained throughout a period of multiple global crises, amid the compounding issues of austerity, systemic racism, ableism and the pandemic, the projects shed light on innumerable ways in which those who do the work of care are often unsupported and devalued.

The exhibition centers the voices of those receiving and giving care in both formal and informal settings, sharing complex and intimate stories of living and working in the care sector today. Radio Ballads builds on Serpentine’s ongoing critical investigation of the role of artists in politics and civic life and is part of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham New Town Culture programme. New Town Culture explores how artistic processes can reframe the work of social care and how embedding artists in local authority services can support systemic change.

Image: Rory Pilgrim, _RAFTS_, Barking and Dagenham Youth Dance, Production Still, 2021. Photo: Matthew Ritson.