Performance art duo Lloyd Corporation combine DIY ads, crap shop signage, and an internet café in an examination of financial breakdown and political relations
Lloyd Corporation is a duo who met while studying at Goldsmiths. Sebastian Lloyd Rees and Ali Eisa have been collaborating for six years – making work that brilliantly draws on the media, consumption, social theory, the breakdown of the financial structures that started with the last crash. The book they published in May – available from Carlos/Ishikawa’s booth – perfectly summarises their practice. It documented their fascination with DIY advertisements, crap shop signage, the forgotten ephemera of urban streets. The weird stuff that makes London, in particular, so interesting. This year at Frieze they are inserting performance installation works at the cloakroom entrance of the fair, in the VIP room, outside and at their gallery’s booth. Bringing up ideas of racism, poverty, and politics, Lloyd Corporation are a breath of fresh air.
You seem to want to stick a finger into some of the complexities around our relationship to consumerism and cities, of looking at the marginal edges of the financial world. Why?
Ali Eisa: We started collaborating in 2008 – I mean as a date you can’t really get more iconic than that. The important writing and ideas for us have been really around the breakdown of any sort of notion of stability of a financial society that will in any way provide for everyone. We tend to get a lot more enjoyment and stimulation out of finding interesting aesthetics within the context of everyday life, particularly urban space and thinking about how political, economic relations are interwoven.
Tell me about some of the elements of your Frieze Live project?
Ali Eisa: We've literally taken something that has had basically no real aesthetic understanding behind it. There are no people talking about the aesthetic of shop fronts. It’s not thought about because it’s informal. At Frieze (we have recreated) this internet cafe and Seb worked out a way of getting these Hillary Clinton emails. He worked out a way of putting them on to Outlook Express, so you can basically surf Hillary Clinton's emails. There's the materiality of the object of the internet cafe - the materials, getting computers and the right aesthetic. But then these contextual elements are just becoming really important.
Sebastian Lloyd Rees: It's difficult sometimes to find the right platform for a conversation. Also when you deal with all these subjects, which are so entangled with a lot of different topics and sensitive things.
The works confront visitors at the fair with their own relationship to consumption. Do you like making people uncomfortable?
Ali Eisa: It’s uncomfortable for us as well. Our anxieties about re-staging scenarios that are precarious and associated with people in poverty or in discomfort within those situations – there is an ethics to it that we're also not entirely comfortable with.
“The important writing and ideas for us have been really around the breakdown of any sort of notion of stability of a financial society that will in any way provide for everyone” – Ali Elsa
You’ve used found defunct materials in your shows that come from old offices. How did that happen?
Ali Eisa: We did a show at Carlos/Ishikawa in 2013 that was really heavily materials-led. We had access to this massive free studio in Southall and we were driving vans around to scrap yards, diving in it was like the most overt found materials practise.
Sebastian Lloyd Rees: After that show, you think to yourself 'why am I doing this thing when I’m so interested in all these other subjects?’
Ali Eisa: We made a shift from thinking about production as a sculptural thing, thinking more about it as a research.
What do you find interesting about collaboration?
Sebastian Lloyd Rees: Working in a collaborative format, we've figured out that we're not on this train of taking art in the art world. The work always seems to want to have this development and shift. The conversation is just as important as the work and the writing. The collaborative duo has never been driven by the idea of production.
How did you first start working together?
Sebastian Lloyd Rees: We had studios next to each other for the whole time (at Goldsmiths). I think it was probably about half way through the last year. Ali used to live on my road as well and we used to go to school every day – that's where the conversations actually started.
Ali Eisa: The defining moment was going to Lovebox in Victoria Park and drinking a bottle of tequila. We came up with this idea of the Lloyd Corporation as a name. That's Seb's middle name and it has this vacuousness to it.
Sebastian Lloyd Rees: We were pretty obsessed with the whole banking community at that point as well. The umbrella of the corporation gives a type of non-identity. There's a lot of positivity with corporations.
And it’s a way to avoid tax…
Ali Eisa: When we started doing all this stuff, it was probably at the moment when the idea of banks and of corporations was probably at its lowest ebb. A corporation was seen as a really failed institution. The idea of a corporation as mythology and propaganda as well.