Finding Fanon Gaiden: Escape (2016-2017) is part of a series of audiovisual works from the Finding Fanon Gaiden series, created by artists Larry Achiampiong and David Blandy in collaboration with various communities and associations of political refugees, immigrants, veterans, women and children in difficulty. The project is part of a broader investigative work entitled Finding Fanon (2015-ongoing), consisting of a series of video works in which the two artists explore the writings of psychiatrist and philosopher Frantz Fanon and his analysis of racism.

This complex body of works was created within the video game Grand Theft Auto V (Rockstar, 2013), whose play space has been re-functionalized to become a place for sharing and reflection to question the meaning of existence in a ‘era of maximum globalization’.
For Finding Fanon Gaiden: Escape, Achiampong and Blandy worked with members of Nottingham’s Women’s Cultural Exchange, a local Nottingham support group for refugee, asylum seekers and migrant women, on a series of workshops in which participants shared their experiences, including stories of migration, frustration with the existing social order and the trauma of female genital mutilation. The two artists collected the testimonies of the women who took part in the initiative and created with them a personalized avatar within the GTA V game space: a woman of color becomes the character with which share their stories. Moving freely through the streets of Los Santos, a fictional city that traces sunny Los Angeles, the avatar we see on the screen becomes the guardian of all the stories shared by the participants. The body of a single avatar thus becomes “a complex tapestry made up of stories of different identities, cultures, societies” (Blandy), the digital embodiment of all the women who have taken part in the activities of Nottingham’s Women’s Cultural Exchange and who have decided to join the project to share their experiences. The game camera follows the woman step by step as she marches through the city while we observers listen in silence to stories of abuse, loss, hope.

The traumas, vicissitudes and challenges told by the women who collaborated on Achiampong and Blandy’s project are reflected in the digital body of the avatar, home to numerous narrative lines that portray all the drama of communities poised between different cultures and sudden social changes. Each intervention of the Finding Fanon Gaiden series takes place in a similar way, with the two artists collaborating with different communities to create a digital counterpart that speaks for the challenges, the defeats, but also the victories, faced by those who live at the company margins. Finding Fanon Gaiden: Escape is a portrait of contemporary society within a videogame environment which, usually dedicated to violence, becomes a portrait of the present and its distortions.


Larry Achiampong e David Blandy
Finding Fanon Gaiden: Escape, (2016-2017)
Ultra HD video, color, sound, 16:9, 19’ 52”


Larry Achiampong and David Blandy, FF Gaiden ESCAPE, 2016, installation view, 'Untitled: Art On The Conditions Of Our Time', New Art Exchange, Nottingham. Photo: Bartosz Kali

Larry Achiampong and David Blandy, FF Gaiden ESCAPE, 2016, installation view, ‘Untitled: Art On The Conditions Of Our Time’, New Art Exchange, Nottingham. Photo: Bartosz Kali