In October 2019, Southampton’s John Hansard Gallery presented ‘Haroon Mirza: Waves and Forms’ – a major solo exhibition by the British artist whose installations testing the interplay and friction between sound and light waves and electric current have won him international acclaim. Through immersive sensorial environments and anechoic chambers, video and performance, Mirza’s manipulated compositions purposely cross wires and leave their processes and materials exposed. Due to open at Aberdeen Art Gallery this March, the touring exhibition’s second instalment was first rescheduled and then cancelled due to forced closures during the coronavirus pandemic. With no physical show to document and no evidence that it would have taken place, Mirza began reworking components of the works included to create new iterations that would exist digitally.
One of these was Dreamachine 1/0, which recently premiered online as Lisson Gallery's featured Spotlight artwork. This screen-based work developed as a purely digital 'translation' of Dreamachine 2.0 – an experiential installation in which Mirza and collaborator Siobhan Coen delve into the subconscious and seek out spiritual enlightenment through specific combinations of retinal, aural and physical stimuli.
On 8 July 2020, Texan artist Hugh Hayden led a tour of his inaugural London show, American Food (12 March–31 July 2020), in conversation with curator and director of The Showroom, Elvira Dyangani Ose.
Making reference to themes of African identity and art history, communal and performative eating and the social values of cooking, Hayden also relates his exhibition to the ongoing epidemic and political upheavals occurring in the US and beyond. They discuss a new initiative aimed at fostering diversity in art education, the Solomon B. Hayden Fellowship – a partnership and student fund at Columbia University, named after his late father. A series of extracts, related films and images from previous 'culinary installations' can be found below, a full transcript was published recently by Ocula. There is also a downloadable exhibition guide published here for the first time with a new essay by Jessica Bell Brown, Associate Curator for Contemporary Art at the Baltimore Museum of Art and an interview with Chika Okeke-Agulu and recipe contributions from Mina Stone, Omar Tate and Paul Anthony Smith.
This discussion, recorded on Thursday 18 June 2020, examined the legacy of John Akomfrah's early films, such as Signs of Empire and Handsworth Songs, in the context of ongoing Black Lives Matter protests, the destruction of colonial monuments and the structures of institutional racism. The conversation was moderated by writer and broadcaster Ekow Eshun and features artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah; theorist and Professor of Humanities and Modern Culture and Media at Brown University, Tina Campt; and author, literary scholar and Professor at Columbia University, Saidiya Hartman.
In a special interview conducted to coincide with a screening of the six and a half hour film work, Heaven and Earth (2014), Ai Weiwei discusses how he turned a traumatic public event into an ironic, painstakingly honest and haunting portrayal of injustice, through the medium of operatic song. In conversation with Lisson Gallery’s Curatorial Director, Greg Hilty, Ai delves into his use of performative scenarios – whether court cases or operas – for this and subsequent works, relating his use of performance, film and music to the better known documentary and activist sides of his practice.
Accompanying these videos is a never-before-seen selection of images from the sadly stalled production of Turandot in Rome, now postponed until March 2021, in which Ai hopes to draw on the mythology of China, the political and social realities of today, as well as his own biography and iconography.
To celebrate the 105th birthday of Carmen Herrera on 30 May 2020, Lisson Gallery launches a new in-depth series, entitled Studio, on our artists' spaces, practices and preoccupations. This includes conversations, behind-the-scenes footage and access to thought processes and new bodies of work. As well as screening the documentary, The 100 Year Show, made in the lead up to her centenary in 2015, this celebration of Herrera's life and work focuses on never-before-seen images and videos of her studio and apartment in New York.
From architecture studies in Cuba to New York’s Art Students League to Le Salon des Réalités Nouvelles in Paris, Herrera's life has spanned continents and art movements, and demonstrates a persistent devotion to her work. She was a pioneer and a peer of many male artists who received great recognition in their time. Her story is just one example of the many great artists whose accomplishments were overlooked because of their gender, ethnicity or nationality.
Rodney Graham invites you to his Vancouver studio where he discusses a new body of work for Lisson Gallery, the so-called Painting Problems, collaged and derived from previous series and painterly personas created by the artist. In these works, Graham continues to inhabit the figure of an unnamed abstract painter, drawing on the vocabulary of early Modernism, splicing together different styles from the Cubism of Braque and Picasso, to the Constructivism and Expressionism of Rodchenko, Pollock and Fontana.
Previous and recent painting series by Graham are obliquely referenced in these Painting Problems – the first of Lisson Gallery's Online Exhibitions (6 – 20 May, 2020) – yet by sampling aspects and fragments of his own compositions, Graham has created a new combinatory style. Here he reveals the thinking and complexities behind the perfect painterly surfaces.
On Tuesday 7 April 2020, Ossian Ward of the Lisson Gallery hosted a live virtual walk-through of Ryan Gander's studio, where the artist provided insight into the new works in his studio – including a philosophical animatronic mouse, ghostly apparitions, fake snow drifts, a man crafted from graphite and other friends. The live tour was conducted via video-conferencing on two separate occasions with hundreds of invitees. Images and documentation of works included in this tour follow the full video of the studio visit.
Gander's work The End (2020) will inaugurate the 'Focus' presentation for Lisson Gallery's Online Exhibitions from 25 – 31 May.
On 4 and 5 May 2020, Lisson Gallery held virtual tours around the Berlin apartment and studio of Christian Jankowski. Led by the artist and Lisson's Ossian Ward, the walkthroughs introduced Jankowski's 2011 film work Casting Jesus (screened by Lisson for one week as the final film in its first season of Spotlight Screenings), in which the artist invited a panel from the Vatican to audition actors vying for the ultimate role: playing the Son of God. Jankowski discusses this film in the studio tour – and how the potentially heretic artistic act was also one of collaboration and deference to the expertise of his ‘co-authors’ – along with a selection of other seminal films from his 30-year career that exemplify the often cooperative, performative nature of his work.
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