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Interruptions: Libby Heaney

Agency is the ability to act.

03.02.21 - 10.02.21

'Agency is the ability to act' is a site-specific interactive animation, where the participant's touch controls the movement of frames on Instagram stories, like a digital version of a flickpad animation. The work will exist as two durational performances that examine the dance and flow of agency between the viewer and the app itself. The work asks how an app like Instagram might be seen as a simple organism with the intrinsic goal of keeping users continuously engaged (and therefore shedding data and clicking on ever more targeted ads).

The title comes from Karen Barad's theory of agential reality where human and non-human entanglements create new intra-active phenomena. The first iteration of Heaney's Instagram Story performances was touch is response-ability commissioned by Hervisions at Lux for their Out of Touch programme during the first lockdown.

Find out more about the artist's work in an Interview between Libby Heaney and Aoife Elston

About the Artist

Libby Heaney's post-disciplinary art practice includes moving image works, performances and participatory & interactive experiences that span quantum computing, virtual reality, AI and installation.  Heaney's practice uses humour and nonsense to subvert the capitalist appropriation of technology, the endless categorizations and control of humans and non-humans alike. Heaney uses tools like machine learning and quantum computing against their 'proper' use, to undo biases and to forge new expressions of collective identity and belonging with each other and the world.

Heaney has exhibited her artwork widely in galleries and institutions in the UK and internationally including a solo exhibition as part of the 2017 EU capital of culture in Aarhus and at Goethe Institute (London 2019) in group shows with Somerset House Studios (online 2020), Arebyte Gallery (online 2020), LUX/Hervisions (online 2020), Tate Modern (London 2016, 2019), ICA (London 2019), V&A (London 2018), Barbican (London 2019), Somerset House (London 2019), Sheffield Documentary Festival (2018), Science Gallery Dublin (2017, 2018, 2019), Sonar+D (with the British Council, Barcelona 2017), Ars Electronica (Linz 2017), CogX (London 2018), Telefonica Fundacion (with the British Council, Lima 2017).

Libby has received a number of Arts Council England projects grants to support her work and is currently a resident of Somerset House Studios.

Part of the Interruptions programme of free events provided by the Holden Gallery.

Image: Libby Heaney

This film iteration of Agency is the Ability to Act is an extension of the two original temporary performances that took place on Instagram stories. The film was commissioned as part of the digital exchange project between Microneme, Wuhan, and the Holden Gallery, and features both Mandarin and English spoken word.