In collaboration with a/political, the industrial music collective Test Dept. present FURNACE, a new large-scale performance. Live at The Foundry, a former metalwork and armaments manufacturing plant, turned alternative Museum concept, on 23 September, 2023.

Test Dept. have a long history of carrying forth a message of struggle – critiquing and challenging the culture of power and its ignorant, abusive relationship with progressive movements and artistic autonomy. One of the most infamous groups to emerge from the industrial music scene during the early 1980s, Test Dept. pioneered the use of found materials, often scrap metal salvaged from derelict factory yards (the detritus of Thatcher’s Britain) and power tools, as instrumentation.

Their work sets a convulsive tone for a uniquely singular and political form of industrial music. Not solely reliant on ambiguity and perversion, the music provokes and agitates; their visual iconography drawing on the bold geometries of Russian Constructivist and Suprematist art, with their live performances being held in car factories, sand quarries and railway works.

From the collective:

“Power needs ‘Docile bodies’ to pacify revolutionary spirit from the idea that the self is not given to us, I think that there is only practical consequence, we have to create ourselves as a work of art.”
- Foucault

FURNACE is the product of a practices that are situated in a very particular time - and a very particular place.
Neoliberalism seems to arrive at it’s grim conclusion; a world so firmly in the grip of it’s political ontology; the administration of ideology, the blind faith in the self-regulating abilities of the economy, presented as scientific truth - that a collective response to global crises has become irrational and thus impossible. Neoliberalism’s only logical response to our planet’s finite resources is to compete for their extraction.

As a result of this dogma we see ourselves utterly disempowered, incapable of participating in a meaningful political discourse with the culture of power - which now operates as a shape-shifting multinational construct. Unchallenged power wielded by the corporate oligarchy, pervasive media and technologies which surveil, control, fragment and marginalise communities, by employing divisive tactics and demagogy to create a weakened, fragmented people stuck in a never-ending cycle of eternity politics, spewing (mis)information to encourage isolationist bubbles of fear.

When confronted with a discourse dislocated from our reality, we need to disengage from it, and create new spaces for revolutionary thought. We need to formulate new vocabulary that allows us to speak about futures that are inclusive to all - people, generations and species.

For this to happen, we need to be aware of our own place within the structures that subjugate us. Subjugation goes much deeper than ideology. Our bodies, gestures, behaviours, ways of caring and collaborating are deeply colonised by neoliberalism. In order to break this cycle of division and disempowerment, we will look towards non-didactic strategies of resistance.

We will create a space in which the cultural practices of collective art-making and experience, embodiment and ritual allow us to rid ourselves of alienation and isolation from our inherent need for community.

The Foundry will provide this space for us. Once the Foundry provided metal for machinery with which to farm, feed and sustain life, also provided armaments during both World Wars. It’s complex history inscribed within its very architecture which is, in its entirety, part of a much larger machinery - was and is deeply interconnected with its workers who it sustained and subjugated at the same time.

By subverting disciplinary practices of labour, the spiritual and political, we will explore and process personal and collective trauma. We will look to the power of culture to harness collective action and the potential through activism, ritual, and spiritual practice to redefine our connection with each other and our environments. Through this interaction between people, and people and their environments, TD believe resilience can be built to resist and heal, both individuals and communities, in order to endure despite the traumatic ordeals we are presented with.
a/political explores radical knowledge through the principle of Cultural Terror. Working with artists and agitators, the collective platforms voices that interrogate the critical issues and dominant narratives of our time. a/political functions through interventions, commissions and a collection of contemporary art. Recently initiated, the a/political label uses the same methodology to collaborate on music projects that might be unsuitable for the mainstream industry. a/political is based in London, working closely with The Foundry and FOUNDRY UNIFORM in Maubourguet, Midi-Pyrénées |
www.a-political.org / @apoliticalorg on social media.

Test Dept.
Test Dept is a renowned industrial music collective known for their groundbreaking sound and powerful performances. With a fearless and confrontational approach, they have pushed the boundaries of music and art, exploring themes of politics, social issues, and activism. Test Dept's unique blend of aggressive percussion, industrial noises, and experimental soundscapes creates a visceral and immersive experience for their audience.
Formed in the early 1980s in the United Kingdom, Test Dept quickly gained recognition for their innovative use of found objects as instruments, creating an industrial sonic landscape that blurs the lines between music and protest. Their music is a striking blend of pounding rhythms, metallic clangs, and distorted samples that reflect their commitment to challenging the status quo and seducing the listener into critical reflection. Throughout their career, Test Dept has collaborated with various artists, filmmakers, and activists, incorporating multimedia elements into their performances and installations. Their powerful presence on stage combines raw energy with thought-provoking visuals, creating an immersive and politically charged experience that resonates long after the performance ends. With their bold and uncompromising sound, Test Dept continues to inspire and influence a new generation of musicians and artists. Their commitment to addressing social and political issues through their music makes them the perfect candidate for the Artist residency in France, where their unique perspective and powerful expression will undoubtedly leave a lasting impact.