Francesc Ruiz’s Brexit Bristol sequel, ten years ago
Cover Story, Summer 2019
The British political system has collapsed… Once the high streets merely declined with their pound shops, gold traders, and bargain basements… Then they slumped as the "major downturn" began to bite… Yet as the economy finally plunged into the devastating recession, countless properties and businesses across the city of Bristol already lay in ruins… Widespread rioting and looting… Shortages of food and medicines… Spiralling inflation rates and a currency crash… The troops now struggle to enforce the state of emergency… The traitors flock to the southern ports, desperately seeking safe passage to Brussels…
Conceived a decade ago, Francesc Ruiz’s expanded comic-strip Untitled (Bristol) (2009) could now be imagined alongside such movie-trailer prose as part of a burgeoning new genre: satirical and dystopian fiction about Brexit Britain. These caustically red-white-and-blue drawings, excerpted here, were Francesc’s contribution to Sequelism Part 3: Possible, Probable, or Preferable Futures. Curated by Latitudes and Nav Haq at Bristol’s Arnolfini, this group exhibition around speculation and wishful thinking, futurology and premonition, opened ten years past this month. In Francesc’s installation the shopfront scenes wrapped around the stairwell at Arnolfini as if the panels of a comics page, creating a frieze of prescient disillusionment and destruction based on two high streets in the south of Bristol. Yet Sequelism did not pretend to prophecy the political weather; neither could it foresee the crisis faced by Arnolfini itself, as the art centre lost its core funding in 2017.
What would have appeared in 2009 in the crystal ball for Francesc’s art? The clouds are clearing ... Is that a pawn shop ... or a porn shop? An Institute of Porno Studies! A Norwegian fun house! It shall come to pass…