Powerful new installation set for Hull Minster

A striking interactive art installation will appear inside Hull Minster next month, bringing with it an important message about equality and human rights.

The Electric Fence, created by artist Annabel McCourt, makes use of some of the latest electronic and sound technology to create a multi-sensory experience, hoping to challenge people’s perceptions of hate crime.

The artwork is inspired by hate crimes experienced by the LGBT+ community around the world, and the dark horrors that have been inflicted on the community throughout history. 

Four giant, connected metal posts will appear live inside Hull Minster, reacting to an audience’s presence and adding an interactive element to this visceral sensory experience.

The Electric Fence was created in response to a statement from the pastor Rev. Charles L. Worley (of Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, NC,) in his Mother’s Day sermon. In reference to President Obama’s public endorsement of same-sex marriage, Rev. Worley suggested that we should “Build a great big large fence, 50 or a hundred mile long. Put all the lesbians in there, fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals. And have that fence electrified so they can’t get out”.

The artist, Annabel McCourt commented: “I couldn’t have foretold the current climate in my wildest nightmares. Soundbites of ‘learning lessons’ resonate in a hollow mantra in which we haven’t evolved. First, Trump rises to power promising a wall, then, reports of gay men being interned and tortured in concentration camps in Chechnya, evoking the indescribable horrors of Auschwitz.

“Now, a ‘coalition of chaos’ fuelling fear and throwing into question new-found and cherished LGBT freedoms. Borders, boundaries, terror, fake news… we are trapped in a loop of hatred where the human condition and an architecture of fear are working in perfect harmony.

The Electric Fence, although initially inspired by LGBT concerns, is an installation for all; exploring freedoms, both physical and metaphorical loaded with symbolism and carrying the scars of humanity within its very fabric. At a time when the world seems more fractious and volatile than ever and on American Independence Day, maybe, just maybe, in the very building where William Wilberforce himself was baptised, there might be a glimmer of hope…”

Opening to the public from July 4 until the end of September, The Electric Fence is part of Hull 2017’s Creative Communities Programme. The artwork offers a counterpoint to the LGBT 50 celebrations taking place across Hull in July to mark 50 years since the start of decriminalisation of homosexuality in England.

Martin Green, Director of Hull 2017, said: “With our third season reflecting on ideas of freedom, which Hull has historically been at the forefront of, Annabel’s thought-provoking installation is timely. As we celebrate the progress that has been made in attitudes to LGBT+ and the ability to be who you are, The Electric Fence is a stark reminder that around the world more still needs to be done to enable everyone to enjoy the freedoms that many of us are able to take for granted.”

Annabel hopes that after debuting the installation in Hull, she will tour the artwork nationally and internationally, with plans to incorporate people’s stories of hate and hope by integrating them into the future sound design of the installation.

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