Ben Yau

Ben Yau (b. 1992, Glasgow, Scotland) is a Chinese-Scots visual artist based in London. Yau graduated from University of Arts London in 2019 and has been selected for Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2019 and Creekside Open 2019. He has exhibited in duo and group shows in galleries such as South London Gallery, Leeds Art Gallery, Copeland Gallery and CGP, and in 2017 co-founded the art collective tackling environmental capitalism, Decade Zero, with fellow artist Zaneta Zukalova.

Yau's artworks interrogate the aesthetics of global conflict, historical narratives, and social tensions. Trained in lens-based media, he now works with material found from a research-intensive process. Declassified CIA documents, British Ministry of Defence research papers, newspaper archives, and YouTube videos are some examples of the materials used. These artefacts are appropriated and re-contextualised to address systemic frictions within notions of power.

To Lose This Wonderful Feeling concerns the personal experience of activist Aysen Dennis, who faced the prospect of losing her home due to urban regeneration. In 2005, Southwark Council announced that they would demolish the entire Aylesbury estate, potentially displacing thousands of residents from their homes and communities. In its place would be largely private housing, a few of which would be so-called ‘affordable’.

Dennis has been at the forefront of campaigning to save her home, maintaining the right for her community to remain at the Aylesbury Estate, and speaking out against gentrification happening all around London. The efforts by Aysen and others has postponed the regeneration, and placed the Aylesbury Estate central to the conviction that social housing must not be diminished and privatised.

The artwork was realised by working with Dennis, who speaks in the sound installation about her home and resistance against regeneration plans. Three A4 collages have been made from reworked planning permission forms, downloaded from the website of the property development partner of the council, Notting Hill Housing.