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Talk #32

Dominic Allan

Andrew Hunt (Professor of Fine Art & Curating at Manchester School of Art) in conversation with Dominic Allan (Dominic from Luton).

‘In 2004, Luton was voted ‘Britain’s Crappest Town’, which has made it, for the artist known as Dominic from Luton, “a glorious window of opportunity, because no one likes it.” Escaping from the shackles of dreary suburbia is a well-worn trope of popular culture – everyone needs something to kick against – but for Dominic, the town itself is the muse, not the spur to head for the bright lights. The visual language of 1980s leisure and childhood summers announces Dominic’s particular interests: the iconography of small town Britain, and his work draws on decades-old imagery to suggest a country stuck in a cultural rut. In the self-explanatory Dominic from Luton as Margaret Thatcher, the artist is photographed in bad drag, gesticulating as though mid-speech, in a crumbling toilet, or wheeling a wheelchair furiously along the balcony of a council block: political history replayed as panto. There’s a historical stasis in Dominic’s work reflected in his use of the photograph as an agent of stillness. My Dad’s Pants, a sad line-up of baggy y-fronts on a radiator, is a photograph that parades its lack of visual interest as a kind of taunt. Dare you not to bother looking, it seems to say.’

Ben Street