Somerset House Studios presents Imran Perretta: A Riot in Three Acts

27 September - 10 November, Lancaster Rooms, Somerset House Studios

A Riot in Three Acts is a new commission by artist, filmmaker and composer Imran Perretta, the artist’s first major new work since 2019. 

This large-scale installation presented by one of Somerset House Studios’ long-standing residents uses the tropes and techniques of cinema, in the form of an expansive film set and cinematic score, to reflect on the narratives of our urban spaces and the social inequality and racial violence that shape them. Centred on the symbolic site of Reeves Corner in Croydon, the former site of the family-owned furniture shop, House of Reeves, that was set ablaze and destroyed during the 2011 London Riots, the exhibition uses sound, sculpture and performance to explore riots or civil uprisings as recurring cycles of reclamation and loss. 

A Riot in Three Acts provides a stage for the conflicting narratives that accompany these collective actions, historically spurred by racist policing, anti-war sentiment, disaffected young people, and discontent towards exclusionary and exploitative government policies. In the main space of the Lancaster Rooms, the film set consisting of a painted scenic backdrop and props replicates Reeves Corner as it exists today — a fenced-off area of disused scrubland. The site remains highly contested land, representing at once a memorial ground to a historic family business, a haunting reminder of a community’s righteous anger, and the death of a dream for change and the end of austerity. After a decade of socioeconomic turmoil and the systematic erosion of public space and resources, it sits as one of many examples of a privately owned, suburban wasteland, forever awaiting redevelopment, itself now an unofficial point of congregation for local people, a neglected location that could be in any UK city. 

Central to A Riot in Three Acts is a newly commissioned score, A Requiem for the Dispossessed, composed by Perretta and co-commissioned and performed by Manchester Camerata. Drawing on the classical tradition of the requiem, a musical composition honouring the dead, the score serves as a sonic representation of a civil uprising and its aftermath, questioning who controls the narrative around how these actions are interpreted. Presented in spatialised surround sound by producers and fellow Somerset House Studios residents Call and Response, the installation mirrors the experience of cinema sound, with the audience physically located at the centre of the action. The full score will be performed live inside the installation by members of Manchester Camerata over two weekends during the exhibition run.

An integral part of this storytelling is Perretta’s old Blackberry handset and the now-defunct Blackberry Messenger (BBM) platform on which he received broadcast messages during the days of the London Riots. The platform was a key communication tool as one of the first end-to-end encrypted messaging services. The Blackberry displays a looped video using found footage of Reeves Corner up in flames, an image that became emblematic of the five days of civil uprising in cities across the country, following the shooting of Mark Duggan, an unarmed Black man, by police in Tottenham on 4 August 2011.

Coinciding with the exhibition, Perretta hosts an episode of the Somerset House podcast series ‘The Process’, sitting down with artists and historians to find out what one patch of scrubland in Croydon can tell us about the legacy of social unrest in Britain, and how we memorialise dissent. Available via Channel - https://channel.somersethouse.org.uk/podcasts/process. Subscribe to the Somerset House podcast via Apple Podcasts and Spotify Podcasts.

Peretta’s recent accolades include a Paul Hamlyn Foundation Artist Award and a Turner Prize bursary. His work has been exhibited globally from Vienna to LA and this winter will see the release of a feature-length film commissioned by the BBC titled, ISH.  

A Riot In Three Acts (2024) is commissioned and developed in residence by Somerset House Studios. Requiem for the Dispossessed (2024) is co-commissioned by Somerset House Studios and the Manchester Camerata, by arrangement with NEWFORM MUSIC. Supported by d&b audiotechnik’s Soundscape.  

Book your free ticket here

A Riot in Three Acts: Performance and Live Events Programme

The exhibition is accompanied by a series of live events, including eight intimate live performances of Imran Perretta’s original score for a string quartet, Requiem For The Dispossessed, performed by the Manchester Camerata orchestra, within the installation. 

A programme of discursive events curated by Rahila Haque will also invite artists, designers, architects, activists and academics to gather on the gravel of the replica of Reeves Corner to consider the symbolism, historical narratives and contemporary issues that permeate the installation. Corresponding to the exhibition’s reference to the model of the three-act structure, the programme builds a narrative of interconnectedness from a discrete site in Croydon to a global civil uprising.

Act One focuses on the local, concrete realities and experiences in Croydon that are embedded in the site; Act Two explores how spatial violence in the UK instigates and punishes civil uprisings as part of the broader context of racial capitalism; and Act Three culminates with the student Palestine solidarity movement, with its internationalist approach and challenge to the politics of space and university structures.

Full programme and tickets here


Requiem For The Dispossessed performed live by Manchester Camerata string quartet 

Friday 27th September 
Performance Times: 6:30pm and 8:15pm (Duration approximately 45 minutes) | £10 (general)/ £8 (concessions)

Saturday 28th September (Matinee) 
Performance Times: 2:30pm and 4:15pm (Duration approximately 45 minutes) | £10 (general)/ £8 (concessions)

Friday 25th October
Performance Times: 6:30pm and 8:15pm (Duration approximately 45 minutes) | £10 (general)/ £8 (concessions)

Saturday 26th September (Matinee) 
Performance Times: 2:30pm and 4:15pm (Duration approximately 45 minutes) | £10 (general)/ £8 (concessions)

Book tickets here

Act One: Retrieving Croydonia

Thursday 3rd October 
6.45 pm
Pay what you can 

For Act One, we host an informal discussion with Croydon’s homegrown artist space Turf Projects, alongside other local artists and designers, to explore how artistic and creative interventions are being mobilised around issues of urban planning and community agency in the management of public space.

Drawing on recent projects that have taken place across Croydon, the event will unpack the complex significance of Reeves Corner, reflecting on public space and grief, overcoming neglect and managed decline, and community skills sharing towards a collective vision for the borough. 

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Act Two: Spatialities of Violence

Thursday 17th October 
6.45 pm
Pay what you can 

Act Two brings together academics and architects, including Gargi Bhattacharya, to expand on the cyclical nature of civil uprisings.

Focusing on the UK’s recent past and historical events, the discussion considers how violence is built into our environments, and why riots and civil uprisings have occurred as repeated moments of refusal that emerge from the brutal histories and continuities of racial capitalism.

Book here

Act Three: Liberated Zones for Palestine

Wednesday 30th October
6.45pm
Pay what you can 

The student movement for Palestine is the biggest global student uprising since 1968. Taking space has been a key strategy of the protests, using the encampment model of the 2011 Occupy movement—which occurred soon after the London Riots—and other historic protest camps. Today, students across the world are demanding their universities to disclose and divest from funding and partnerships connected to the occupation and potential genocide unfolding in Palestine.

For Act Three, we gather with organisers from Goldsmiths for Palestine and other student organisers of liberated zones for Palestine to hear about inhabiting the public/private space of universities, revealing the colonial functions of institutional infrastructures, and imagining alternative models of education for a liberated future. 

Book here

Somerset House Future Artists Programme 

Monday 28th October - Friday 1st November

In response to A Riot in Three Acts artist and musician Raheel Khan will lead a 5-day workshop for aspiring artists aged 16-19, prioritising those from underrepresented backgrounds. Free to attend and guided by Khan’s practice, the group will experiment with different methods of creating, collaging and experiencing sound, while exploring themes and ideas of protest music in the UK. The project will encourage curiosity, inviting participants to develop new ways of thinking and amplify their unique artistic voices, culminating in a performance. For information on how to apply, visit: www.somersethouse.org.uk/inclusive-talent-engagement/future-artists-programme-raheel-khan


NOTABLE UPCOMING DATES AT SOMERSET HOUSE STUDIOS:

  • DONO: Appau Jnr Boakye-Yiddom Harun Morrison at G31 | 19 July - 20 Oct 2024 - Free 
    A collaboration initiated with Somerset House Studios and developed in dialogue with one another, Harun Morrison and Boakye-Yiadom explore musical, linguistic and architectural forms of meaning-making, interrogating the boundaries of language. More information here 
  • AGM, New Wing | Fri 11 Oct 19.00 - 23.00 - £16.50 
    Somerset House Studios celebrates another year of its resident artist community with AGM, an annual night of cross-disciplinary performance and installation throughout the building’s New Wing. Offering late access to exhibitions from Imran Perretta and Appau Jnr Boakye-Yiadom & Harun Morrison, with a live programme spanning sound and movement soon to be announced. 

Book tickets here 

NOTES TO EDITORS

High-resolution images: here 
For more information, please contact Isis O’Regan - isis@tsf-pr.com Lily Stones- lily@tsf-pr.com 
For general Somerset House queries, please contact press@somersethouse.org.uk  
Somerset House Website: www.somersethouse.org.uk/somerset-house-studios
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Imran Perretta Biography

Questions around power and identity formation underpin Peretta’s work in a post-9/11 world marked by austerity, state-sponsored Islamophobia, and the War on Terror. Recent exhibitions, screenings and performances include tears of the fatherland, Secession, Vienna (2024), The Condition of Being Addressable, ICA LA (2022), SUROOR for CTM Festival, Berlin and Whitechapel Gallery, London (2022), the destructors, Spike Island, Bristol, Chisenhale Gallery, London, the Whitworth, Manchester and BALTIC, Gateshead (2020-21) and Rotterdam International Film Festival; AMRA (in collaboration with Paul Purgas) for Art Night London, (2020-21). Imran was a recipient of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Artist Award in 2023 and was named a Turner Prize Bursary recipient in 2020.

ABOUT SOMERSET HOUSE STUDIOS 

Somerset House Studios is a space for experimentation in the centre of London connecting artists, makers and thinkers with audiences. The Studios supports artists across disciplines to push bold ideas, engage with urgent issues and experiment with new technologies. 

At the heart of Somerset House, the Home of Cultural Innovators, up to 70 artists are resident at any one time for a period of between one and seven years, with a number of shorter-term national and international residency programmes running alongside this throughout the year.  

In addition to its rolling year-round programme, the Studios develops ambitious cross disciplinary projects and creative collaborations, and powers Channel, Somerset House’s new online space for art, ideas and the artistic process. 

ABOUT SOMERSET HOUSE 

Step Inside, Think Outside    

As the home of cultural innovators, Somerset House is a site of origination, with a cultural programme offering alternative perspectives on the biggest issues of our time. We are a place of joy and discovery, where everyone is invited to Step Inside and Think Outside.   

From our historic site in the heart of London, we work globally across art, creativity, business, and non-profit, nurturing new talent, methods and technologies. Our resident community of creative enterprises, arts organisations, artists and makers, makes us a centre of ideas, with most of our programme home-grown.    

We sit at the meeting point of artistic and social innovation, bringing worlds and minds together to create surprising and often magical results. Our spirit of constant curiosity and counter perspective is integral to our history and key to our future.  

ABOUT MANCHESTER CAMERATA

Manchester Camerata is the UK’s most relentlessly pioneering orchestra, constantly paving the way of what a 21st century orchestra should be. Led by its visionary Music Director, Gábor Takács-Nagy, and its artistic partners, Manchester Camerata has toured internationally, performing in the world's most iconic concert venues with the greatest artists in classical music.

Based at the Monastery in Gorton, Manchester, the Camerata sees a vibrant and exciting future for classical music, investing in the next generation of musicians in the north with its Camerata 360° Ruth Sutton Fellowship programme.

Manchester Camerata believes that music has the power to change the lives of people and transform the prospects of places. Find out more at manchestercamerata.co.uk/about-us