Archive for October, 2010

Ai WeiWei at Tate Modern

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Last night I was at Tate Modern for the opening of Ai Weiwei‘s Turbine Hall installation. The vast space is covered with what appears from a distance to be little grey stones, the sound as people walk sounds like the comforting crunch of a shingle beach, looking closer you see not little pebbles but a deep carpet of sunflower seeds, scoop up a handful and you discover they are replicas of sunflower seeds in fact made of porcelain, each is handmade and hand painted, they amount to 100 million.

The successful installations at Tate Modern for me are the ones that draw the visitors in to their magic, immerse you and take you somewhere else in your head (Olafur Eliasson’s The Weather Project) connecting you not only with the strangers around you through the experience but with the cries of strangers in a far off country (Doris Salcedo’s Shibboleth). This installation achieves both of these.  The seeds are beautiful to look at, to walk on and to listen to as you and others walk on them. More than that, mount the stairs and look down on the hall, patterns are created of people gently ambling over the porcelain seeds, the visitors become unwitting performers, this is one of the drawings I made last night.

Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei wants the public to correspond with him to give feed back and ask questions through twitter and computer terminals are set up in front of the installation to enable you to do so. Ai Weiwei was at the opening last night, quietly charismatic with a strong presence, he spoke to everyone that approached him, he is in this drawing, facing us in the huddle on the left, surrounded.

Stephen Petronio Company at The Barbican

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

I Drink the Air Before Me by the Stephen Petronio Company was the first dance in the month of Dance Umbrella 2010. The title, inspired by the words of Ariel in reply to Prospero in The Tempest, hints at the ferocious speed, verging on mania that the dance creates. As the audience take their seats the dancers dressed in coats and long johns are on stage with a ballet bar warming up. Petronio wandering around the theatre muttering, dressed as an old salty sea dog: sou’wester, fake beard, wig and big boots (designed by Cindy Sherman). On stage too were a small orchestra and at a grand piano, Petronio’s collaborator in this production, composer Nico Muhly. Ropes are strung across the front of the stage to the circle (relieved I’m sitting stage right so not in my eye line).

Petronio 1 Petronio2

Petronio 4 Petronio 6

As the music begins and the dancers move the audience are transported to the sea: dangerous, deep, wind lashing, out of control, man-over-board sea.

Petronio 6

A children’s choir sing at the beginning and at the end.

Guardian Angel in a Fusion of Art and Science

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

A collaboration between London ArtHDR Architects and Art-Atelier has resulted in my sculpture Guardian Angel to be exhibited in the window of HDR’s exhibition space in Monck Street SW1. The exhibition, titled A Fusion of Art and Science displays the work of eight artists with a shared interest in the connections of science and art, including sculpture, painting and drawing.

Guardian Angel 1  GA3

Lapped Translated Lines, choreographed by Rosemary Butcher

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Lapped Translated Lines is the latest dance choreographed by Rosemary Butcher. The stage is dominated by a large twisted linear structure, designed by Melissa Appleton and Matthew Butcher, reminding me of a Richard Deacon sculpture. Solo performer, Elena Giannotti, moves across the diminished stage in linear patterns to a soundtrack that opens to the sound of waves rushing in and out over a shingle beach, like breath.

butcher 1  butcher 2

As a viewer I became immersed in the movement played out in front of me in the small intimate space of the Lilian Baylis Studio. Following linear patterns across the floor, Elena Giannotti’s physical strength come across in a very gentle human way. Her movement felt at times heartbreaking, as she walked on her hands and feet, reminiscent of Muybridge’s ‘Paralytic Child walking on all fours’ or the Francis Bacon painting inspired by this. As I watched it was if an evolution of movement was unfolding in front of me, from hands and feet to shuffling, walking, standing, turning, rolling.

butcher 3

A screen is above the performer, filmed previously by Daria Martin showing Giannotti in constant movement, often focussing on her hands and feet, so she becomes dwarfed by the film of herself and the twisted steel sculpture above her. Below she echoes the movement in the film but only rarely is it the same.