This weekend, Twin’s art editor Francesca Gavin opened up her exhibit The Dark Cube at Palais de Tokyo in Paris. An experiment combining static art and UV light, the literally ‘glow in the dark’ experience applies neon colour and an innovative viewing experience of every artwork from Kasper Sonne’s Untitled (carpet) No. 3, which is given a colour kick thanks to luminescent paint, to Scott Treleaven’s painting The Body Electric, with five of the piece’s six floating bodies immersed in a neon orange glow for a further intensification of its dreamlike feeling. Like all good things subject to limited availability, the exhibit runs until next Monday.
Twin spoke to Gavin about modern-day psychedelia, electronic nature and teenage memories of Camden market’s Cyber Dog…
From disco to rave, UV lighting has had quite a history in it its own right. What made the time ripe to do this exhibition now?
I think it’s to do with our relationship with technology. Many of my exhibitions in the past have explored that relationship – how we look at screens, the psychedelic experience of going on the internet. This is actually my least high tech exhibition but I think that this now old fashioned technology feels very relevant in terms of contemporary feelings about the world of wires, electrics and Wifi around us.
How did you go about choosing which artists to display?
A few artists I know had worked with UV in the past – Jeremy Shaw, Jeremy Deller and Thomas Dozol. Many I had worked with before, others I had seen work that I felt would fit. It was very organic. A number of the artists – Oliver Laric, Anne de Vries, Juliette Bonneviot – were part of that Berlin post-internet scene which I felt really connected to the idea.
What was the process of putting it all together like, for example where there any changes in vision throughout the project?
In a way it was like putting on an exhibition in the dark! It was impossible to know the results until I turned on the black lights and saw the works glow. A lot of the artists were making things partly in normal light and at night with hand held small black lights. It felt quite risky compared to a normal exhibition when you just have to work with the hang and hope the screens work okay!
A large part of the exhibition aims at literally looking at things in a different light. Would you say that it is a reaction against the times of our short attention span digital generation or is it something else?
I think because we are so used to seeing the entire world through a screen that the process of looking at objects, at images, at things in real time is really important. Arguably something with political undertones. Thought it was fascinating see many of the hundreds of visitors who came during the opening on Nuit Blanche immediately want to engage with the work through their camera phones. UV also ends up being an interesting metaphor for the electronic nature we give to the world in our screen culture.
On a more personal note, what are your own fondest black light memories?
I grew up near Camden market and when I was at the end of my teens it was the early days of techno. My sister was going to free parties and was part of the whole Spiral Tribe scene. Very hardcore. She was obsessed with reflective materials and circuitry. We used to go to this T shirt stall in a sort of cave-cellar there by a label called Cyber Dog (which over the years turned into a crazy huge techno mecca) and I bought a shirt with a circuitry star on it that glowed in UV… For a brief moment it was the epitome of cool.
What future projects do you have lined up?
No shows lined up quite yet – I’ve done three this year which feels like a lot! Possibly an exhibition at a project space in Belleville in the spring. And of course the acres of writing for Dazed, Twin, AnOther, Sleek and the rest.
The Dark Cube is on display until October 15th at Palais de Tokyo.
If you don’t already have plans for today, Twin recommends heading down to Jacob’s Gallery in Butler’s Wharf for The Responsive Eye exhibition.
The original The Responsive Eye was an exhibition held at MoMA in New York in 1965. Bringing together artworks by so-called ‘Op’ and minimalist artists such as Bridget Riley, Josef Albers, Viktor Vasarely and Almir Mavignier, audiences were challenged to rethink ways of viewing art.
For 2012, Twin’s own Francesca Gavin has curated an exhibition of contemporary optical artworks, with the same aim of exploring our mental and physical relationship with art. And as part of South London Art Map Late Fridays the exhibition will be open until 8.30pm tonight. Utilising digital techniques such as gifs as well as video, this is optical art brought to date.
The Responsive Eye is at Jacob’s Island Gallery until 12 May 2012
For our final rewind, Twin names the art shows, books and music that made it big, as well as those waiting to enter centre stage…
Francesca Gavin – Art Editor
For me this has been the year of Mark Leckey – both his solo show at the Serpentine and an hypnotic installation at the Printemps de Septembre in Toulouse. I’ve been obsessed by his work for years and think he has a massive influence on a whole younger generation on artists with his fascination with pop culture, technology, music and screens. I like many others wait with excitement at whatever comes next.
In 2012, I’m really looking forward to surviving the apocalypse and visiting the Marrakech Biennial in February. Some really great artists are in the line up including Aleksandra Domanovic, Jon Nash and Matthew Stone and I think its going to be a fascinating trip.
Elsewhere 176 new monthly programme of emerging artists, Yayoi Kusama and Edvard Munch at the Tate Modern, Rashid Johnson’s big shows at Hauser and Wirth NYC and London throughout the year, Urs Fisher at Palazzo Grassi in Venice, and the Berlin Biennial (which can only be an improvement on two years ago which was uber-dull).
Aimee Farrell – Features Director
In terms of writers in 2011 it has to be Caitlin Moran at the top of the list. How To Be A Woman managed to make feminism funny and accessible.
In 2012 I’m excited about Rachel Cusk. Her Granta essay about life after marriage, which throws a feminist light on the institution of divorce has been developed into a major new work of non-fiction, called Aftermath: On Marriage and Separation. Published by Faber the book will be a series of meditations on women’s mid-lives and family life after divorce.
Last year marked another 12 months of female dominance in the music industry, whether it was Beyonce at Glastonbury or Adele taking America. There were strong albums from the likes of Feist and a great debut from songstress Anika. For me though, the highlight was PJ Harvey storming the Mercury Music Prize for a second time. Let England Shake easily summed up the zeitgeist for 2011 and proved that there are still important albums being made.
For 2012, there’s a feeling it’s going to be the year of the viral superstar. We’ve already had Azealia Banks’ 212 and Lana Del Rey’s Video Games, now we need to hear the albums.
After meeting artist Leslie Kulesh at our recent Twin Speaks salon, we fell in love with her can do attitude. From coloured yarns to acting out Nineties classic flick Clueless with friends, anything goes. Originally from San Francisco but now living in London, we thought we’d share her with the rest of you…
Do you remember the moment when you decide to be an artist?
Vividly! I was in Hawaii with my grandmother and my father, who’s an art conservator. I was about 11 years old and we went to a museum show of Hockney’s opera sets.
The interior of the museum was entirely dark, save for the lights on the sets, as they would have been in use. Recordings of the opera music played loud from room to room, and as is custom over there – the air conditioning was blasting. The whole experience was multi-sensory and emotional to the point of almost being frightening. I knew I wanted to make things like that – environments that transported people that had their own history, but perhaps a future potential as well.
Your work involves both performance and hand crafted structures – how would you define your own work?
My practice is definitely process oriented. It’s important to work with the material and understand what goes into production. In works such as No Fear, I spent about six hours a day for the best part of a month measuring, cutting and tying each piece onto the grid I had designed.
That work becomes very meditative and wouldn’t have the same energy had it been made by another person. Decisions get made throughout the creation and I see what is developing. With performance work, it’s the same in a lot of ways. There is an idea, multiple ways to approach it, script writing, or improv, work-shopping, then re-working – always guiding back toward the original idea. By taking full ownership of the work there is room for it to start mutating.
When performing with others, I have always called upon friends. Unlike actors, I know their qualities, or suspect there is something that will come out once placed in a specific environment. That open-plan style work also allows for excessive collaboration that proves for a much stronger performance.
How important is popular culture in your artistic practice – are there any elements you find yourself consistently retuning to and why?
Pop culture is great – it mutates in that same way as I see my work. Someone puts forth an idea, others riff on that, it gets co-opted, becomes a meme and by then there’s a whole new story happening. I do consistently return to the digital/analogue exchange- both literal and symbolic. I’m sure it’s generational, having to do with growing up in Silicon Valley – learning DOS instead of Dewey Decimal.
Nonetheless, it continues to be relevant. As technology trudges forward, those same senses that were so stunned back in the Hockney exhibit in Hawaii become stunted when I try to take in a 500px X 340px Katharina Grosse image. I know I am not experiencing it – it’s a point of reference; and I often wonder if there will be a movement away from this half baked form of research.
What drives you to create?
Different things, different days. To prove something to myself, to scare myself. You always hear that new age-y talk about internalizing instead of externalizing, living in the moment – divorced from the future and the past. I feel that way when I am making something. That time becomes like a line, one dimensional.
If you weren’t an artist what would you be?
A musician – god knows I travel enough. At the least I should have the reward of a crowd acknowledging me for my travel every couple of days!
What’s up next for you?
I have a video in a group show at French Riviera opening tonight 6-9pm and I’ll be DJing with Twin’s Art Editor Francesa Gavin afterwards!
I’m also speaking at Camden Arts Centre with Kate Cooper (co-director of Auto Italia) on December 7th and I’ll be in performance during Bodies Assembling at Auto Italia on Saturday, December 10th.
This month Twin’s art editor Francesca Gavin curates ‘Syncopation’, a ten-day Berlin exhibition that explores personal notions of selfhood. Gavin’s work as a curator, editor and writer is already varied, yet: “My true alternative self is a musician,” she explains.
Gavin grew up making music, performing below fleapit cinemas; steeped in the embrace of jazz and folk. Her grandmother’s record label Dial Recordings, which released Charlie Parker and Mile Davis’ records, sparked a love of soul, jazz, hip hop and black music culture and its relation to art.
The show presents the work of artists and musicians Cory Arcangel, Frankie Martin, Jeremy Shaw, Matt Stokes (pictured, top) and Mark Titchner, and is one part of a bigger exhibition – Despina Stokou’s project ‘D12’. Like the Detroit rap group who failed to find twelve members, instead asking six MC’s to create alteregos, Stokou has invited six artists to showcase theirs.
Head to the private view to catch a live lounge jazz performance by Gavin, accompanied by Julien Quentin. The party continues at Bierhaus Urban from 11pm with Jeremy Shaw and Gavin on the decks. Deeply buried true selves may just be revealed.
Jayson Scott Musson, How to Hip Hop, 2010, video still.
21.10-31.10, Grimmuseum, Fichte Straße 2, 10967, Berlin, open daily 2-7pm. grimmuseum.com.
The after party is on the 21.10, Bierhaus Urban, Urban Straße 126, corner Graefe Straße
Twin’s art editor Francesca Gavin has been busy working alongside artist Jonathan Yeo co-curating a permanent collection of artworks for the Dean Street Townhouse, the latest addition to the Soho House Group, which opens tomorrow.
In the style of Colmbe D’Or artists Tracey Emin, Sam Griffin, Fiona Banner, Tim Noble and Gavin Turk – to name just a few – were all given credit at the hotel, which was once the notorious Gargoyle Club, in exchange for their artworks. So visitors know they will certainly be in good cultural company.