REVELATIONS 1331: The Fish Island Prophecies Revealed
Black Cube Gallery in association with the L-13 Light Industrial Workshop is proud to present this landmark exhibition by Neo-Nothingist Anartist duo STOT21stCplanB (aka STOT21).
The product of many years work cleaning and restoring the original prophecy artworks, followed by the making of monumental reconstructions for effective display in the huge Black Cube gallery spaces, this is the largest most ambitious showing of the Fish Island Prophecies ever presented to the general public.
The prophecies were originally foretold by a reclusive resident of East London’s Fish Island known as The Pram Man. A semi-mythical character, The Pram Man is believed to have been a disillusioned artist living in the area throughout the 1970’s and early 1980’s, working as the caretaker of a disused fridge & freezer depot where he also had his studio.
The Pram Man was named so because he used an old shopping trolley adapted with pram wheels to shift the broken fridges about, regularly taking to the streets at night with his ‘pram’ roaming the area looking for fly- tipped appliances. Many dark tales were woven around this odd character and told by the residents of Fish Island; often taking the form of folk warnings to their children to not stay out late “in case the Pram Man gets you!”, or threatening to send for him if they misbehaved.
It is told that the prophecies came to The Pram Man in a series of feverish dreams over a period of 13 days in July 1977. He wrote them all down in a makeshift notebook bound together with wire in a piece of dirty old pub carpet, and then worked tirelessly for several years on what he called the “illustrated warning signs”: recreating his visions and embedding them with coded symbols, letters and numbers that only he could decipher. The imagery he created is relentlessly repetitious and disastrous like hundreds of glitched film-stills of The End Times stuck on the same few scratched frames for eternity. The coded symbols, letters and numbers remain a mystery but the visions are alarmingly accurate in foretelling landmarks such as Canary Wharf and the Millennium Death Wheel long before they were conceived let alone built. Scenes of collapsing new buildings, extreme weather and nuclear obliteration dominate the visions. Tate Modern also appears in all its ominous glory, apparently still working as a power-station spewing out toxic smoke (perhaps from burning art?). He initially planned to hang these warning signs along Wick Lane to alert the public to what was in store, but following an insurmountable crisis in confidence he instead sealed them all in a bitumen filled chest freezer and dumped it in the canal. He proclaimed that if the freezer were ever found it could only be opened in the presence of the 13 foremost artists of the time, otherwise a terrible fate would befall the world. Then, on New Year’s Day 1984 he disappeared forever.
STOT21stCplanB found the chest freezer and retrieved it from the canal in 2004. Knowing about the curse they kept it safely locked and hidden away until 2016 when, bored with trying to agree on who the 13 foremost artists of the time might be, they decided to open the freezer anyway. At first nothing bad happened, but then we had Brexit, Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and a Global Pandemic followed by Liz Truss, a major conflict in Ukraine and the death of Lloyd Morrisett; so maybe it wasn’t such a great idea after all. Undeterred, the artists and a team of art restoration experts have spent the last six years carefully cleaning off the bitumen as best the can to reveal the illustrated warnings beneath. They also found some notes written by The Pram Man where he explains how he’d intended the warning signs to be much bigger but didn’t have the facilities to make them at the scale he wanted. When he first hung his efforts on the walls of Wick Lane he thought the diminutive scale made them look so pathetic he became inconsolably dismayed and removed them immediately. This is what triggered his loss of confidence and, we presume, his ultimate disappearance.
For this exhibition STOT21stCplanB honour The Pram Man and his work by recreating a selection of his prophetic artworks at the gloriously monumental scale he intended. These reconstructions are shown alongside the original restored works and, to help fund the project a series of unique facsimiles at the original scale will be made available to buy from the L-13 Light Industrial Workshop.