the destructors is a solo exhibition and major new film commission by London-based artist Imran Perretta. Drawing on the artist’s own experience as a young man of Bangladeshi heritage, the film explores personal and collective experiences of marginalisation and oppression. Shot on location in Tower Hamlets, East London, it reconsiders the figure of alienated male youth, exploring the complexities of ‘coming of age’ for young Muslim men living in the UK.
The film borrows its title from Graham Greene’s 1954 short story The Destructors. Set in post-war London, still recovering from the Blitz, Greene’s story follows a gang of youths who plot to tear down an old man’s house. In an era of desolation, hopelessness and austerity, it explores a generation of young men and their perceived capacity for destruction in a society marred by inequality, material devastation and social death (a sociological term used to describe the condition of people not accepted as fully human by wider society). Perretta’s the destructors seeks to reflect on this narrative of post-war disaffection through the period following 9/11, a time characterised by state-sponsored Islamophobia and the perpetual ‘War on Terror’.
Presented across two screens, the destructors follows a group of young people as they navigate the social pressures of growing up in society that has come to view them as both a physical and ideological threat. Set against a backdrop of widening economic inequality, targeted abuse and asymmetric law enforcement, the characters reflect on their lives and experiences through a series of poetic monologues. Captured by several cameras at once in the decaying architecture of a local authority building, the film draws attention to the institutional surveillance of British Muslims under the UK government’s anti-terror strategy, and the deterioration of public spaces for working-class communities of colour. In this way, it reveals the uncomfortable nexus between austerity and the ‘War on Terror’: two parallel policies which have increased the economic and social marginalisation of Britain’s Muslim communities.
Imran Perretta (b. 1988, London) lives and works in London. Encompassing moving-image, sound, performance and poetry, Perretta’s work explores ideas of biopower, marginality and the (de)construction of cultural histories.Perretta is a graduate of the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London (2014) Recent exhibitions include 15 Days, Jerwood Space, London (2018); Mene Mene Tekel Parsin, Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge (2017); it wasn’t a crash, in the usual sense, Arcadia Missa, London (2016); 5 percent, Copenhagen Art Week, Denmark; and Devotions, MOT International Project Space, London (both 2015). Perretta was selected for Bloomberg New Contemporaries, World Museum, Liverpool and ICA, London (2014–15). In 2016, Perretta presented Pale News, a performance devised in collaboration with artist Milo van der Maaden and members from the PoC and LGBTQ communities in East London, as part of Chisenhale Gallery’s 21st Century programme of performances and events.
Imran Perretta’s the destructors is produced by Chisenhale Gallery, London and Spike Island, Bristol, and commissioned by Chisenhale Gallery; Spike Island; the Whitworth, The University of Manchester; and BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead and supported by Outset Contemporary Art Fund. It tours to partner venues throughout 2019 and 2020.