Plato’s Lair at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art

The winner of 2017’s Gillian Dickinson North East Young Sculptor (GDNEYS) award, Peter Hanmer, has been included in the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art’s new group exhibition ‘Digital Citizen – The Precarious Subject’. The exhibition draws on the imagination of contemporary artists to inspire conversation on ideas of citizenship in the digital age.

Hanmer’s winning GDNEYS installation saw Cheeseburn’s Walled Garden Potting Shed transformed into an immersive re-imagination of Plato’s ‘Allegory of The Cave’ – complete with some forty miniature figures. Fans of Hanmer’s work can now experience Plato’s Lair redux, which further explores the allegory, within the UK’s largest dedicated contemporary art institution.

Says Hanmer: “It’s a real privilege to show the second iteration of Plato’s Lair, in this extremely topical exhibition, alongside so many excellent artists. Plato’s Lair redux is housed in a rectangular, boxed environment, which, from the outside, is a plain grey structure that is prison-like with a small internet router on the roof and, from the inside, is transformed to that of a potting shed within which a miniature society of bird-like figures reside.”

As with Hanmer’s winning installation at Cheeseburn, Plato’s Lair redux provokes questions about the nature of reality; how we believe we know the world through our experience of it, and how this ‘reality’ may be subliminally or forcefully influenced and distorted.

Hanmer continues: “In The Allegory of The Cave, Plato asks us to imagine people shackled all their lives facing the wall of a cave where shadows play; how this would become their own reality. What I would suggest Plato’s most important lesson is: asking us to think for ourselves.”

In an era of ‘fake news’, constant surveillance of our online presence, and the unprecedented speed of information circulation; Digital Citizen – The Precarious Subject asks: have we lost the ability for informed political action? Are we still able to form a community, or has the fragmentation of the present moment deprived us of the capacity of being active citizens?

Curated by Alessandro Vincentelli, and running until June 2019, the exhibition revels in digital avatars, game environments and ‘total worlds’ that open up new spaces for creation; and that investigates new possibilities of digital tools and networks for rethinking historical forms of nationalism and citizenship.

Alongside Hanmer’s installation, visitors can check out the work of nine other artists at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, from 25 January – 16 June 2019.