Striking Nottingham art project ‘I’m Tired’ gets Hockley exhibition

Video: Kate Chaplin talks to Paula Akpan about her project

A Nottingham art project which caused a storm online with its eye-catching portrayal of discrimination now has its own exhibition.

‘I’m Tired’ was started by city students Paula Akpan and Harriet Evans last June.

It involves striking black and white photographs of messages painted on people’s backs.

Each subject chooses their own wording based on what they are most tired of hearing or dealing with in their lives.

It means the subjects remain anonymous and can be brutally honest about how they feel.

With phrases such as “I’m tired of being told to ‘let go’ of not knowing my birth parents” and “I’m tired of my life being in relationship to my past abuse” it caught attention on Facebook.

The project page now has 36,000 ‘likes’ and includes pictures submitted from around the world.

On Saturday it opened as an exhibition at Guerilla Art Lab on Broad Street, Hockley.

Paula and Harriet say they started ‘I’m Tired‘ as a way to bridge the gap between leaving university and becoming fully-fledged adults, and never expected the reaction it generated online.

Paula said: ” I think it really took off because you can just slot yourself into it because it’s a back and because it’s anonymous. It could literally be anyone.

“If you yourself can relate to a statement then it can almost be something you take on for yourself.

“It’s human curiosity as well, it’s someone’s story and you can have a peak into someone else’s life and I think it’s nice to have a window into something you don’t know.”

Rachel Parry is the director of Guerilla Art Lab and says she us thrilled by the exhibition.

It’s very brave to do that

She said: “As an artist myself, I’ve travelled and been so fortunate to have some really rich experiences of showing my work and meeting other artists.

“When I came back to Nottingham, I noticed there was nowhere for people to rehearse and I wanted to find the community of other live performance artists.

“What was really interesting (about I’m Tired) is that I kind of see it as performance art and what I see is somebody showing themselves being vulnerable and sharing their experience of something that really bothers them or those micro-aggressions that take over. It’s very brave to do that.”

‘I’m Tired’ is at Guerilla Art Lab, 25 Broad Street, Hockley, throughout May and June. Visit the exhibition Facebook page for more details.

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