Judith Dean was commissioned in 2011-12 to develop a year-long collaborative art project about Powerstock Common, Dorset, a designated SSSI and AONB, for the project Road for the Future, curated by Anna Best. It was funded by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, West Dorset District Council, the educational charity Ernest Cook Trust, Artsway Associates, Dorset Design and Heritage Forum and UWE.
In the video Dean imagines the Common to be Roman territory, juxtaposing images of Imperial Rome with other ‘invading images’ via the internet, developing the themes of surrender, victory, territory, ambition and farce. The output draws extensively on site visits and research into the Commons’ specific history, location management and current leisure use, as well as the concept of ‘the commons’ more broadly, as socially and culturally contested sites. The mode of the project stimulates reflection on the position of both artist and viewer as always remote and removed by repeatedly insisting on being on the Common while clearly being elsewhere.
The work was exhibited on Powerstock Common itself, using a portable computer workstation designed by Dean which was strapped to the trunk of a tree atop a tumulus at the Common’s highest point, giving the viewer an expansive view as an alternative to watching the video. A short performance introduced visitors to a related, semi-fictional map of the Common which they could use to explore further.
Dean contributed to a public lecture, Powerstock 2011 and the project website (www.roadforthefuture.info/category/judith-dean). She exhibited the video at Paradise, Walmer, Kent, 2012, curated by Peter Fillingham; OPEN OPEN, the Swiss Cottage Library Gallery, London, 2012, curated by Vicki Lewis, Senior Visual Arts Officer, London Borough of Camden; 13 Video Arts Festival, Stockholm, September 2013 and Beaconsfield, London, 2013.