Ellie & I recently visited A A Murakami’s Silent Fall at Burlington Gardens at the rear end of the Royal Academy building complex. Timed with the beginning of Frieze Week 2021 the installation will be running until summer 2022.
You enter a giant, relatively dark room where bubbles are being released from tube-like dispensers above you. Because of the mirrors spread all over the walls, the space seems like an infinite forest.
The bubbles look relatively heavy like honey or jelly. However, they turn out to weigh next to nothing. This is why they float towards the ground very slowly.
CATCH THEM WITH YOUR HAND
You can catch them with your hand. The gallery provides you with a glove for that purpose, as you are not supposed to touch the bubbles with your bare hands. You can make the bubbles bounce up and down on your glove-covered palm or burst them.
The bubbles contain fragrance, so if you are hypersensitive or allergic to some fragrances then this show might not be for you. When a bubble bursts, it releases the smoke it is filled with, unexpected and rather pleasing on the eye. The scents and audio track for Silent Fall were created by perfumer Paul Schütze.
BASED ON EARLIER WORK
Silent Fall is based on A A Murakami’s ground-breaking, widely celebrated, earlier piece New Spring, which had become an immediate Instagram phaenomenon when it was first shown at Milan Design Week in 2017.
STUDIO SWINE AND A A MURAKAMI
In 2011 Japanese architect Azusa Murakami and British artist Alexander Groves founded Studio Swine with a base in London and one in Tokyo. If I understand correctly, then they only decided later on to limit Studio Swine to product and furniture design while using the label A A Murakami for their art installations.
They call their works “Ephemeral Tech” and say that they want their art to be where the boundaries between technology and nature are gone. On the Superblue website they are being quoted as saying that they intend to create “unnatural phenomena using real materials that engage all our senses beyond the standard visual stimuli of flat screens, projections, and LED arrays.”
FOLLOWING AN ANCIENT TRADITION
Like the first human attempts at art such as cave paintings depicting animals or stone circles aligned with the movement of the sun, A A Murakami’s art emulates nature and tries to connect us with it.
FROM OUR ORIGINS TO OUR FUTURE
When you walk through Silent Fall you get both vibes of a futuristic world, a dystopian hell where the only trees around are artificial trees, and of our origins as life forms. The first cells, Groves reminds us in an interview with Wallpaper magazine, were bubbles.
GLOBAL SUCCESS STORY
Through Studio Swine, the two artists have achieved enormous success over the years. Their work is now part of the permanent collections of the Centre Pompidou in Paris, MoMA in New York, and the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, three of our favourite museums.
WHO IS SUPERBLUE?
Alongside No One Is An Island, Silent Fall is the first London project for Superblue. This platform provider and commercial partner of experiential artists was co-founded by Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst, who set up the London outpost of Pace Gallery, and Marc Glimcher, Pace’s CEO. Initially called PaceX and run as a Pace Gallery side project, many of Superblue’s artists continue to be represented by Pace.
TICKETS, OPEN HOURS
Tickets are £12 online, £15 walk-in.
The open hours are Tuesday to Thursday from 10am to 7pm, Friday to Sunday from 10am to 8pm. The exhibition is closed on Mondays.
HOW TO GET THERE
Bond Street (Central and Jubilee line), Green Park (Jubilee, Victoria, and Piccadilly line) and Piccadilly Circus stations (Piccadilly and Bakerloo lines) are all ten minutes’ walk away.
Visitors are being asked to arrive 15 minutes before their ticketed time slot to ensure entry. Late-comers might not be able to see the show.
Curmudgeon Christopher Howse in the Daily Telegraph and the bulldozers from TimeOut both give the installation the lowest possible rating of 1 out of 5. Most newspapers and magazines seem to have ignored the installation entirely so far. At least our friends from The Londonist call it an ‘unmissable exhibition’.
DUMBED-DOWN ART FOR INSTAGRAMMERS?
We are no fans of dumbed-down pseudo-art manufactured for the instagrammer crowd. Yes, it’s true, Silent Fall is very easy on the eye and it is a lot of fun to immerse yourself in it.
WE THOROUGHLY ENJOYED OUR VISIT
Does this mean that it’s dumb and meaningless? We looked at some of the other art A A Murakami have produced and find their approach thoughtful, interesting, and consistent. 5 out of 5 from us.
Looking for more posts about art and culture? Feel welcome to eyeball our notes about Frieze Sculpture 2022, Sculpture In The City 2022, Frameless, the immersive art experience, Frieze London 2021, Mixing It Up at the Hayward Gallery, the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, Anish Kapoor at Lisson Gallery, and JR Chronicles at Saatchi Gallery.