How did Reality Art start?
It all started in North London, when three young men wanted to share their experiences of living in one of the most deprived wards in the UK. In 2017 we attended a wellbeing youth service where we worked with psychologists and artists to share stories from our community to highlight the social inequalities that are part of many people’s realities.
Since then we’ve been able to showcase our work to many different audiences through installations and video art at exhibitions in places including Stockholm, Sweden and Soho, London.
We wanted to try and change the narrative around marginalised young people, who’s experiences were being unfairly documented by the media. We wanted people to understand our reality before judging us.
What is the typical process for creating an installation or other pieces of work?
Reality Art’s work tells stories that are always based on true experiences and realities. In order to develop an idea Reality Art will explore an area of focus by interviewing subjects and conducting qualitative research in order to represent as many voices as possible. Often our work will affect us personally and we create art on the issues that are important to us and in the way that we want to express them. Coming to our live events and immersive installations is the best way to experience and understand the stories behind our art.
What have been some of the challenges and successes of working in this sector?
Working in our sector it is often hard to reach the people or organisations that hold the real power to make a change. Our work can be seen as controversial or opposing to the structural systems that are in place. We work with young people who have complex needs and have often experienced trauma and have been abandoned and let down by services and professionals, so it is difficult to gain trust and provide an authentic platform for them to believe they can make a change.
Another challenge is that art of this kind is not recognised or offered in the areas that we come from, young people are pushed into limited pathways like sports and music and then criticised when things go wrong because of lack of support systems or understanding. We constantly see missed opportunities and wasted talent in our areas because young people are overlooked and aren’t given the chance to develop their passions or express themselves in a real, authentic way.
The highlights of our work so far have been seeing the impact our projects have had on our audiences. At our first major exhibition in Soho we could see the way that the content moved visitors emotionally and changed people’s perceptions about the issues we addressed. It was important for us to have exhibited in a prime central London location where work with our message is not usually exhibited publicly.
We believe that Reality Art is the real life evidence of the value and importance of youth community spaces which unfortunately get shut down or don’t get the support or funding they need to continue their important work. Organisations like Centre for Justice Innovation have been a crucial platform to support our work because they see the benefit of giving us full control over the concept and freedom to express ourselves the way we want. This helps make our work authentic and not compromise the message we are trying to get across.
What are your hopes and/or future plans for Reality Art?
Currently, our future plans are to have a variety of immersive art events so we can continue sharing the important stories that go unheard and enable conversations around some of the topics we have addressed. We want to keep pushing the name “Reality Art” with consistent shows, more awareness campaigns and we are interested in launching a merchandise line to reach a wider audience.
Our ongoing main aim is to give people from all walks of life an opportunity to step in our shoes to understand us, where we came from and other young people growing up in similar situations. We don’t just wanna share perspectives of young people’s hardships and struggles but we want to start documenting more stories of hope, success, positive role models and important legacies that communities can be proud of.
We hope our work sparks conversation and can create positive change to the social inequalities people face growing up in these communities.
If you you would like to find out more about Reality Art, please click here. You can find them on Instagram and Twitter at @realityartldn.