This winter Bluecoat opens The Lives of artists, an exciting new season of four exhibitions and related events, residencies and commissions. Babak Ganjei: Thanks for having me is one of the two shows that open the season.
The Lives of Artists considers what we can learn about ourselves when we listen to the testimony, histories and stories of artists reflecting on their lives and practices. It puts the existence and work of artists into a larger context and demystifies the lingering idea of artists creating in their own individual bubbles, away from society.
Thanks for Having Me presents scenes from Babak Ganjei’s life and career. He began selling his work at market stalls, which he has restaged for the exhibition – it became a method of sharing his work with the world that he no longer participates in but can’t quite let go of. The artist sees himself as operating on the fringes of the art world and is never quite settled, uncertain of where he belongs.
Ganjei is an artist, writer, musician and filmmaker and his mediums of choice are often simple and direct – posters with painted slogans on a white background are then often made into mirrors, t-shirts or other merchandise. With a very recognisable tone of dark, deadpan humour, the artist communicates the reality of life as an artist (this is also perfectly illustrated in his 2023 film Freelancer). His work can be described as stemming from inner monologue that has now physically spilled onto any imaginable surface.
Daily life is Ganjei’s greatest inspiration, from a walk around a supermarket to having debt. His work is often a self-deprecating commentary on the day-to-day as a creative professional. In 2014 he sold a set of twigs from his neighbourhood on eBay for £62 and has turned books by Jeremy Clarkson, Nigel Farage and Donald Trump into works of blackout poetry.
It isn’t very often that we can enjoy humour in the context of art (something the Bluecoat has been leaning into recently); it’s a field that is often guilty of taking itself just a little bit too seriously. For this reason alone Thanks for having me is sure to delight audiences with its playful offerings and witty insights into the artist’s life.