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Discarded objects are recognisable icons of the city. Masking tape, retractable knives, brass knuckles, reconstituted violin strings – the latter a timeless garrotte of melody and suffocation. Even the broken laptop can be recycled to highlight the threat posed to modern life by traditional ways of life. All of which explains how I came to conceive ‘Suicide Kidz’.

‘Suicide Kidz’ is a controversial project – part performance, part moving installation – that explores the transformative norms of boundaries as lived and ‘strokes’ (if I may appropriate the graphic art term) the real potential for dislocation within a suicide bomb attack.

Small children in care are fitted with special backpacks (part smoke machine, part radio receiver) and sent alone into what are known as the ‘soft targets’ of the city. Areas of perceived vulnerability such as shopping malls, bus depots, station concourses, large cafes – wherever there exists the possibility to inflict mass carnage and the inherent narrative of despoliation.

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A micro camera is used to guide the children to their respective targets. The camera signal is relays their position back to base – base being an impromptu radio transmitter concealed in a moving van or atop a run down housing estate. The kids are directed towards High Frequency Youth Repellent Devices or Mosquitoes as they are commonly called.

As soon as the children come within range of the Mosquitoes, a series of special sensors trigger the backpacks to release clouds of noxious black smoke, simultaneously replaying ring-modulated sonic collages of the ‘final testaments’ of notorious suicide bombers at very high volume. In a crowded space the result is cataclysmic.

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This usage of young wards of the state in a controversial context serves to conflate social disenfranchisement with the complex interplay of urban paranoia and end use gratification.
As a result, globalisation fantasies, gender, body art and disputed legality are foregrounded against a background of viral anxiety and mainstream visibility.

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Suicide Kidz was commissioned by the Arts Councli 2016, curated by Hans Joachim Feller, facilitated by Louisa Ffoulks of AIB Associates with additional funding from Smirkett & Bloat Llb and is touring the USA and Pakistan from June onwards.

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