We’ve just returned from the best value art exhibition this year, or actually from a double-exhibition at 180 The Strand:
Both exhibitions are fabulous and absolutely free. Until 8 December ‘Other Spaces’ is being shown at The Store X The Vinyl Factory in collaboration with the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris. It consists of three major, site-specific installations by UVA, the London-based, technology-focused, multi-disciplinary art & design collective founded by Matt Clark in 2003.
According to their website, their sources of inspiration range from philosophy to modern science and their art aims to “explore the cultural frameworks and natural phenomena that shape our cognition, creating instruments that manipulate our perception and expose the relativity of our experiences.” UVA’s website states that their works “are better understood as events in time, in which the performance of light, sound and movement unfolds” rather than as material objects.
The collective’s members change frequently, with Clark now being the only remaining founding partner. Their collaboration partners include filmmakers, the band Massive Attack, the Paris Opéra Ballet, and Burberry, the fashion house. In short: quite an interesting and highly successful outfit.
The first installation, ‘Our Time’, is partially building on the 2013 Barbican commission ‘Momentum.’ It consists of kinetic structures (mainly metal arms moving around various axes) with moving spotlights in an otherwise pitch-black dark large room. There is an all-encompassing sound carpet composed by Mira Calix.
The second installation, ‘Vanishing Point’, was our favourite: an immersive laser show that tries to reimagine the concept of space through beams of white light that are being projected from an invisible vanishing point.
The final piece, ‘The Great Animal Orchestra’ is probably the least impressive of them all, but still good fun. It involves recordings of animals in jungle habitats by ‘bioacoustician’ Bernie Krause and colourful, moving ‘spectrogram landscapes’ that visualise the sound. Perhaps we should have just stayed a bit longer. Most of the other visitors were sitting on the ground in the provided bean bags and seemed to have semi-religious experiences of the good kind.
The second exhibition, ‘Transformer – A Rebirth of Wonder’, showing until 15 December, includes newly commissioned works by Sophia Al-Maria & Victoria Sin, Doug Aitken, Donna Huanca, Juliana Huxtable, Korakrit Arunanondchai, Evan Ifekoya, Dozie Kanu, Quentin Lacombe, Lawrence Lek, Chen Wei, Jenn Nkiru, Harley Weir & George Rouy. The quality of the artworks varies, with some pieces leaving us in serious doubt about the question if they are art at all, while others were hugely fascinating. From the flyer you learn that the exhibition’s title was inspired by beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s short poem ‘I Am Waiting’, which criticises contemporary America’s society and calls for a change of consciousness, the rebirth of a new wonder.
What we loved most about the show was that it is political and explores the idea of a transformation of society.
The show explores ideas of self-image, identity, and representation, and investigates how positive change could be possible. Jefferson Hack, the curator, says “The artists in Transformer look deeply into the present and see the future. Each artist is a powerful mediator of their community and culture, using storytelling, poetics, and ritual to author new narratives and expand our field of vision. They are world-makers, inviting us to access altered states of consciousness as we step beyond reality into a series of highly authored, staged environments.”
There is a programme of performances, workshops, talks, and “community-based actions by collectives” which accompanies the exhibition, organised by associate curator Susanna Davies-Crook.
5 out of 5 in our book. We’ll be visiting 180 The Strand more regularly going forward.