Something Else

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The Independent Culture
'Who in their right minds wants to spend an evening or two in the lead-polluted atmosphere under Spaghetti Junction?' asked the Birmingham Tory Councillor Alan Blumenthal last year, outraged at a pounds 25,000 Arts Council award to the performance artists Fine Rats. The answer to Mr Blumenthal's question? Five thousand visitors, undeterred by his description of the show as the work of 'arty types' believing 'they know what people will want to watch and not really having the foggiest idea and wasting money on it'.

A more current question goes like this: who in their right mind wants to spend Friday evening at a defunct coal-mine, with only the odd marshal between art and a sticky end down a pit shaft? That's the scenario for 'UN-EARTH', the Rats' new show at Snibston Discovery Park, Leicestershire, a working pit until 1983, which aims to 'un- earth the issues relating to the slow dismembering of the coal industry'. 'Unfortunately we can't do it underground,' says Ivan Smith, a Rat, 'because it was concreted up.' What the 500 expected visitors will find is a trail of happenings - live canaries in the untouched Pithead No 1, a shower-room installation - enlivened by 'interventions'.

'Architectural significance is the link for our shows: evocative locations,' Smith says, putting the work in context. 'We've done disused factories, motorways and a condemned tower block. This again explores redundant space. We're not making this a totally political issue.' Maybe not. But don't expect the Blumenthals to turn up. Adrian Turpin

'UN-EARTH', Snibston Discovery Park, Coleville, Leicestershire, Fri 9 Jul, 10pm to midnight. Free

(Photograph omitted)

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