37 countries have come together at Somerset House with designs inspired by utopia. Scattered throughout the venue, each country responded to utopia differently – some focused on utopia’s political ideals, some created ways to provide aid and equality while one immerses you in a virtual reality. With 37 countries explaining their concepts, there is a lot of information to absorb. Not to worry. Cooper Hewitt’s technology pen allows you to tap the icon on each information didactic. Once you have tapped each wall label you want to remember, you can log on to the website and find the information you wanted to save ready to download to your computer. Pretty cool.
Daalaan // Pakistan
Otium and Acedia // South Africa
Shenzhen: New Peak // Shenzhen, China
Cooper Hewitt // United States of America
Water Machine // Saudi Arabia
Chakraview // India
VR Polis, Diving into the Future // Spain
Human. Touch // Israel
Human. Touch // Israel
Saturday night the ICA held the first Art Night in the city of London. Performance works occurred in a range of venues from the Charring Cross tube station, to Covent Garden, to Somerset House to St. Mary le Strand Church. Visitors were able to walk from location to location to see and engage in a variety of performance art works. “Don’t Sleep,” that is what visitors were told as many of the shows started after dark and ran until 2:00 am. At Somerset House a group of people participated in traditional Chinese exercise in a piece called the Physique of Consciousness by Xu Zhen and produced by Modern Company. In the little Baroque church in the middle of The Strand, St. Mary le Strand, the film, Film Title Poem, by Jennifer West played. Visitors were able to be a part of her next project by writing on a 16 mm film strip the title of their favorite movie, where they saw it and what it means to them. I did not make it to 2:00, I went to sleep. Were you able to stay awake and see each performance?
Xu Zhen Produced by Modern Company // Physique of Consciousness // Somerset House // Utopia 2016
Jennifer West // Film Title Poem // 2016 // St. Mary le Strand
It’s disco time! Well not really. But in Katie Paterson’s installation in Somerset House it certainly feels like a party. Suspended on a string attached to the ceiling is a large twirling ball. A light projects on the ball and little dots twinkle across the room like stars. If you look closely at the ball you discover that it is composed of individual tiny photographs of solar eclipses. There are 10,000 images on the ball showing every recorded solar eclipse.
High-Visibility Graffito Solutions // Petro // UK // High-visibility fabric & 3M reflective material // 2016
Graffiti in a museum? That’s right! In Somerset House’s exhibition Venturing Beyond: Graffiti and the Everyday Utopias of the Street, graffiti works are placed within the walls of the museum. While graffiti is usually seen as breaking the rules, here they are showcased as works of art. Artists from the UK, France, Italy, Denmark, Australia the US and Spain push the boundaries of street art in this show by creating striking works that venture beyond our common stereotypes.
The Only Emergency is the Absence of Emergency // Filippo Minelli // Italy // Pigment prints on paper & pigment print on silk
Chopper // Swoon // US // Paper cutouts & acrylic paint on wood // 2015
_H1.A_ // Revok // US // Oil enamel & synthetic polymer on wood assemblage // 2015
Busy Doing Nothing & Watching Out // Huskmitnavn // Denmark // Ink on paper // 2015
Infinity Again / Smurf Blue Buff / Gassy Crying Dog // Russell Maurice // UK // Emulsion, cotton, nylon & nylon string on MDF / Emulsion & acrylic on cotton // 2016
Silence & Shapes // Filippo Minelli // 2016
Happy Easter! Spring is in the air! Pastel colors are back in season. The pink, orange and purple colored smoke in Filippo Minelli’s color explosion at Somerset House seems to mark the arrival of this time of year. Titled Silences and Shapes, the performance piece was part of the Somerset House exhibition Venturing Beyond, which is currently on view.
If you like outdoor art then be sure to visit Somerset House’s exhibition Out There: Our Post-War Public Art exhibition. Yes, it is an indoor show. But, it showcases public art. This exhibition draws attention to the positive effects that public art has had in England post WWII. Through public art projects, sculptures and installations can be available to anyone who passes by. This show begins with works right after the war and continues to pieces created last year. Additionally, in the final room there is a wall that showcases all of the lost, damaged and destroyed works of public art, drawing attention to the need to save and preserve our local art.
Curious as to what public art works are near you? Visit HistoricEngland.org.uk/List
Fiberglass architectural relief from Leo Supermarket // Paul Mount // 1984 // Ponsharden, Falmouth // Saved by Nick Dobson
I ventured into Somerset House’s exhibition Koásznai: A Cold War Artist: Animation, Painting, Freedom without an in-depth knowledge of the world of animation. I immediately became mesmerized by viewing the drawings and sketches hanging on the wall. Adjacent to these works was a television showing the drawings coming to life. Koászani was a Hungarian artist who painted scenes from Paris, Prague and his home, Budapest, during the post Cold War era. His pop art technique utilized bright hues and stylized figures in a manner that transforms paper sketches to television animation.