Olivia Plender’s research-based artistic practice has considered alternatives modes of living, education and belief. Plender’s work is based on case studies from social history, often of fringe or working-class movements in the 19th and early 20th century. She examines the emancipatory potential of these groups, and their connections to causes such as the campaign for women’s suffrage and the co-operative movement. Plender’s work presented in the biennial is a set of drawings inspired by the Kindred of the Kibbo Kift, a renegade boy-scout splinter movement founded in 1920, who sought alternative models for education and self-learning. Led by John Hargrave, the Kibbo Kift evolved from being an arts and crafts influenced democratic youth movement into something more like a religious cult, and then later into a campaign for monetary reform. The Kibbo Kift was opposed to the ‘useless toil’ of the factory, adopting William Morris’s ideal of a return to a pre-industrial golden age. They later outlined a plan for a universal basic income, in order to free people from the necessity to work. However, during the Great Depression of the 1930s between World War I and II, they mobilised as a uniformed group, a period during which Europe also saw the rise of fascism.
Olivia Plender is based in Stockholm.