John Walter

John Walter is a London-based artist working across a diverse range of media including painting, performance, moving image, installation and curating. He is currently artist-in-residence at Kavli Institute for Nanosciences at TU Delft, The Netherlands.

Previous collaborations with scientists (CAPSID, 2018 and Alien Sex Club, 2015) have informed his current interest in viruses of the mind and take an increasingly Darwinist view of human production informed by Dawkins’ notion of the meme as a unit of cultural replication equivalent to the gene in biology. He was awarded the 2016 Hayward Curatorial Open for Shonky: The Aesthetics of Awkwardness

Recent exhibitions include: Lockdown Tarot (Plymouth Art Weekender, 2020); Queer Algorithms (Gus Fisher Gallery, Auckland, 2020); Co-Factors (Suttie Arts Space, Aberdeen, 2020); Brexit Gothic (DKUK, 2019); Crep Suzette – A Shoe Show (with Bert McLean, LUVA, 2019); The Fourth Wall (Look Again Festival Aberdeen, 2019); Booze Guitar (Matt’s Gallery, 2018); CAPSID (CGP and HOME, 2018); Somewhere in Between (Wellcome Collection, 2018); Coming Out: Sexuality Gender and Identity (Walker Art Gallery, 2017). Wellcome and Arts Council England have supported his work. The Arts Council Collection and The Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool have collected his work.

A Virus Walks Into A Bar, 2018, 20’06”

Capsids are the protein shells of a virus, which act to protect, cloak and deliver the virus to its host, and ultimately to enable the infection to spread. 

A Virus Walks Into A Bar (2018) is John Walter’s most ambitious film to date. It narrates the life cycle of an HIV particle as if it were set somewhere between Coronation Street, Twin Peaks and The Teletubbies. The characters include an anthropomorphized capsid, along with other key proteins, co-factors such as CPSF6 and the targeted cell nucleus, depicted by the barmaid surrounded by regulars (the cytoplasm). The high-definition video image contrasts with the handmade quality of the costumes, all produced by Walter, who also wrote, directed, co-edited and designed the sound for the film.

A Virus Walks Into A Bar was co-commissioned by Southwark Park Galleries London and HOME Manchester – supported by a Large Arts Award from Wellcome and Arts Council England Grants for the Arts as part of Walter’s large-scale project CAPSID, created in collaboration with Towers Lab, UCL and project-managed by SMART, Aberdeen.