The Beautiful Dystopian Hell of a Post-Riot Britain
Jimmy Cauty has had quite the life. As one half of late 1980s stadium house duo the KLF, he and his partner Bill Drummond scored two number one records, wrote a book about doing so, toasted their success by unloading a machine gun filled with blanks over the heads of the assembled music industry at the 1992 Brit Awards, and ended up burning £1 million in cash—nearly all their earnings—on the remote Scottish island of Jura.
For all it’s been talked about in the years since, this stunt probably would have been worth ten times that fortune in publicity, but instead Cauty has kept a low profile, working on his own personal art projects. His latest work is The Aftermath Dislocation Principle Part One: A Small World Re-Enactment. It’s the hangover of a riot, built in 1:87 scale miniature (but still covering 448-square feet), depicting a bleak urban cityscape of rubble-strewn flyovers, burned-out cars, and razed fast food restaurants almost entirely devoid of life, save for a swarm of policemen in high-vis jackets who seem to be wondering where all the rioters have gone.
Before Aftermath, he worked on a series of smaller self-contained pieces called A Riot in a Jam Jar, built with actual jam jars and customized model railway figurines. Cauty explained that the inspiration for the series came while he was in a grocery store, watching a supine line of people lining up for automated checkouts. “I remember thinking, if I was 20 years younger, I’d be there grabbing stuff, smashing things up, and running out. But everyone was very passive,” he said. “People just want to go buy their instant meal, eat it, go to bed, go back to work. No one seemed interested in rioting.”