PILING ON THE PRESSURE

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Indy Lifestyle Online
When artist Peter Kennard decided to set up Home in Michael Howard's Folkestone constituency, he was the subject of a determined censorship campaign by the local Tory council. The offending installation, which reaches London's Dazed and Confused Gallery this week, is a cascade of palettes and placards. Faces and hands of the dispossessed reach up towards the portrait of Howard, sitting aloof at the top of the heap (above). Kennard argues that the installation is not "party political" but when the exhibition was opened by Ken Livingstone in the run-up to local council elections, infuriated Tories didn't waste much time debating the interface between agit-prop art and propaganda, and set about having the piece dismantled on grounds of electioneering. "The work makes a symbolic statement about civil rights, youth homelessness and refugees," says Kennard ruefully, "but all they could see was piles of rubbish surrounding their beloved Michael."

Now senior lecturer in photography at the Royal College of Art, Kennard's career has seen his work exhibited everywhere from "the local laundrette to the United Nations in Geneva". Home is not the first of his works to fall victim to heavy-handed curation. At a previous show in the Barbican, a visit by a Chilean financier led to one of his reflections on the country's dictatorship being shrouded with a blanket.

All of which confirms to Kennard that "art can be effective politically, that it isn't just about entertainment and escapism. I like a lot of the new stuff by young artists but many of them believe that art can't change anything, that one can't intervene. My idea is that one does have choices."

Dazed and Confused Gallery, Old Street, London EC1V (0171-336 0766) 10am-6pm to 7 May

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