Anticlone Gallery Attends: Conrad Armstrong & The Vicious Collective
Issue 4 Zine Launch
Vicious Collective is a DIY collective that was founded in 2013 by multidisciplinary artist Conrad Armstrong and Ashby Field and Nuha Ruby Ra. Anticlone were invited to the new autumn zine launch of Vicious Collective located in Hackney Wick. Anticlone sits down with artist and founder Conrad Armstrong to talk before the launch and the event yet to come. Vicious Collective Promotes experimental and underground art away from the mainstream. These ideas have been at the forefront of their ethos.
The Vicious Collective is an amalgamation of experimental and diverse multidisciplinary artists, musicians, photographers, sound artists, and writers. Members include Zilcho and Kurt Hamblin, Nuha Ruby Ra and Ben Palmer. Cross-pollination has fuelled their development as artistic individuals as well as a group, which Conrad describes as a level playing field.
We were intrigued to know how the name 'Vicious’ arose. Conrad explained Art always being a disaster, which is an exciting place. Vicious derives from an artist’s vicious cycles to find beauty in mistakes. Conrad went on to describe the ethos behind the new Vicious Daily zine. Conrad described the zine being split into four seasons; this cyclical format emphasises never-ending news cycles. Fake news birthed a satirical irreverent response to real outrageous news headlines.
The launch was collectively curated by Conrad and the Vicious members, in the yet to be opened The Pattern on mare street, a black owened business owned by Amechi Ihenavho. The space was in a shop under construction similarly to a warehouse that emphasised the DIY aspect of the collective.
Conrad recalls living in warehouses since the age of 17 in Hackney and how it has undergone a vast change. Gentrification has caused an imbalance where money is not being poured into the artists that were here before. The number of spaces for artists has reduced throughout the years, so it’s really special for the collective to be launching in Hackney. Consequently, the Vicious Collective launch being held within Hackney emphasises its importance, but for how long.
The Launch night itself inticed attendees with sounds of Black Sabbath, Stella Beer and Tattoos created an ambience of debauchery and anarchy during the event. This tied into the Vicious framework debunking ideas around societal standards within the art industry, going against the grain of formal art events. Amalgamating Anticlone in its nonconformist ethos. Performances from The Group, poetry by Liv Wynter and Haikus by Louie Jenkins.
Conrad pointed at the importance of performance highlighting it as a key and immediate way to get people together and to collaborate as it's more organic and immersive. Conrad’s performance with The Group was a crazed comedy as he read aloud the headlines from the zine encouraging people to ‘Cancel Vicious Daily!’ but also to ‘Buy the Zine!’ Conrad explained how the Vicious Collective has pushed him out of his comfort zone. Previously Conrad was mainly focused on one medium, being painting however, through the Vicious Collective, he has made magazines, films, and soundtracks that have challenged his artist practice. (See below examples of multidisplinary works available online Shop)
Conrad explained he was in a metamorphic state with his independent work. ‘I just had my solo show recently. Upon reflection, I enter a transitional phase of research and experimentation. I’m back in the lab.’ Born Again the title of his most recent exhibition at Stour Galleries explored the relationships between his culture and geographical environment, melding together the underground scene and his various array mediums. For the future, he spoke about how reinvention aided his craft and not to stick to one thing. This aligns greatly with the ethos of Anticlone these ideas of self-reinvention and not being static within one medium or way of working. There was also a selection of merchandise to purchase with the Vicious logo and some plastered with the words ‘IS WATCHING AND LAUGHING.’ This highlights their trademark and memorable ethos emphasising their anarchic approach.
Conrad summarised what feeling he wanted the guests to leave with. He stated that he wanted the audience to engage by supporting financially but also to leave with something meaningful. Conrad unapologetically expresses his need for financial support. This is common among artists in today's modern society, to not often speak on the lack of financial gains.
Art is of course about expression, however, it is apparent that Conrad is unafraid to state what all Artist’s require to survive. Living in full true transparency and surviving as a full-time artist is something Anticlone stands for and believes all artists deserve.
Special mentions from Conrad:
Text Krissie Marie Heliodore
‘The name vicious comes from the vicious cycles; an artist undergoes to create work through the process of repetition and failure. Most great artworks can sometimes just be a series of mistakes that have become something beautiful.’ - Conrad Armstrong
'I think having your specific flavour and trying to stick to it as much as you can is important, not responding to what you think is popular and trending. We are not professional designers within the output of the collective, we don't stick to trends.’
- Conrad Armstrong
“I would want the viewers to engage by giving back by supporting us financially but also, I would like them to feel that they’ve received something meaningful. I want people to feel it’s reciprocal" - Conrad Armstrong