‘Unearthing the Banker’s Bones’ is the title of a body of work by the artist Keith Piper. Commissioned by InIVA and initially developed for display at the Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool (Nov 2016-Jan 2017).

The project centres around a new video installation, commissioned as part of the Arts Council Collection 70th Anniversary. This is combined with a reworking of ‘Robot Bodies’ an interactive project originally developed in 2001, a new series of digital prints entitled 'Pulp Fictions' and 'Future History Paintings' a new installation of works on canvas.

The development of this project is documented in the video below directed by Charles Havord, and commissioned by InIVA.



The act of presenting a speculative view of the future as a means of deconstructing the present has long been a staple of science fiction. The main video installation ‘Unearthing the Bankers Bones’ references the dystopian speculations of Octavia Butler and Mary Shelly as key examples of the literary projection of contemporary anxieties into an imagined future.

The installation is comprised of three large-scale synchronised video projections alongside sculptural objects displayed in exhibition vitrines.

Each projection is composed of an evolving collage of filmed, drawn, painterly and animated elements through which we are taken to a series of reference points within classic science fiction texts. This journey is revealed through the literary reflections of an anonymous narrator who describes the emergence of an illusive hooded ‘trickster’ figure, eventually given the name ‘Surmanakin’ in reference to the work of the ‘Islamo-futurist’ poet Jalal Mansur Nuriddin. Depicted as a shape-shifting Android, this ‘trickster’ figure acts as a time travelling cypher weaving a pathway through the contemporary social and political landscape. In the course of this journey this ‘trickster’ encounters another illusive allegorical figure know only as ‘The Banker’ It is from this character that the work takes its title.

Unearthing the Bankers Bones Trailer