Something Curated highlights the unmissable arts and culture happenings taking place across London this March, from Chinese artist Cao Fei’s new site-specific installation at Serpentine Galleries, to Langlands & Bell’s exploration of contemporary society’s relationship with architecture, via the Iceland Dance Company’s spirited interrogation of the apocalyptic bond between humans and nature.
Plusgood at Enclave Lab || Ada Egg Koskiluoma, Chen Di, Ellie Wyatt, Hampus Hoh, Matilda Moors & Vanessa Lam (5–13 Mar 2020)
Alienation, as a characteristic feature of modern capitalism and commodity fetishism, has become the repercussion of the hidden labour within a fragmented technological production whose process is experienced as a loss of reality. The works included in this group show narrate a spatial fiction that informs the viewers of a constructed visual normality that is always temporary, contingent, and partial. Plusgood is an invented vocabulary from the Newspeak, a language invented by George Orwell in his seminal book 1984.
Blueprints at Serpentine Galleries || Cao Fei (4 Mar–17 May 2020)
Cao Fei is a multi-media artist and filmmaker based in Beijing. Video, digital media, photography and objects all play a role in the artist’s engagement with an age of rapid technological development. The Serpentine Galleries exhibition brings together new and existing works in an immersive, site-specific installation, expanding the themes of automation, virtuality and technology that Fei continuously draws upon. Although each of Fei’s worlds appear to teeter on the edge of apocalyptic uncertainty, her characters navigate these complex and chaotic realities with vigour and agency, harnessing the unique possibilities of technology in order to shape a collective future.
Langlands & Bell: Degrees of Truth at Sir John Soane’s Museum || Ben Langlands & Nikki Bell (4 Mar–31 May 2020)
For over four decades, Langlands & Bell’s work has explored the complex web of relationships linking people and architecture and the coded systems of communication and exchange we use to negotiate a fast changing technological world. Their art ranges from film, video and digital media projects to sculpture, installation, and full-scale architecture. New works specially commissioned for the exhibition and works borrowed from public and private collections will be installed across the Museum in dialogue with Sir John Soane’s collection of art, architecture and antiquities.
C I T H R A: Compositions at Gasworks || Richy Carey (7 Mar 2020)
Gasworks will be transformed for a day into an immersive audio installation by current exhibiting artist Lauren Gault’s long-term collaborator Richy Carey, expanding on the existing audio works in the exhibition. A series of phasing compositions will build throughout the day, made from fragments of field recordings and conversations between the artists collected over five years. Carey is a composer based on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. He often works collaboratively to create distributed compositions that address the complex, communal ecologies of authorship, agency and empathy materialised through processes of listening and sounding, together.
Film & Performance
Breathing (5-1-5) at Mimosa House || Georgia Sagri (5 Mar 2020)
As part of her project IASI (meaning ‘recovery’ in Greek), Sagri has been working with individual participants to continue her research into self-care and recovery, a practice that expands on over 10 years of work, and includes voice tuning, breathing and movement techniques. The research and practice formation at Mimosa House unfolds in two parts: the first consists of private and anonymous one-to-one sessions, taking place between January and March 2020, with a number of participants involved in the research. The second derives from the first part’s case studies, taking shape in the form of performances, objects, drawings and writings by the artist.
The Marines Who Never Returned at Korean Cultural Centre UK || Lee Man-hee (19 Mar 2020)
In the first of London Korean Film Festival’s series of screenings commemorating seventy years since the outbreak of the Korean War, the organisation present influential director Lee Man-hee’s epic story of loss centred on a small group of South Korean marines. During a mission, the marines rescue a little girl whose pregnant mother has been gunned down by the ‘commies’ before their eyes; but soon they come across the scene of a worse atrocity, the tortured bodies of innocent civilians murdered by the enemy soldiers. One marine finds the corpse of his own sister.
Black Marrow at Southbank Centre || Erna Ómarsdóttir & Damien Jalet (21 Mar 2020)
Transformative choreographers Erna Ómarsdóttir and Damien Jalet ask how far we will go for oil, in a no-holds-barred contemporary ritual. Black Marrow interrogates the apocalyptic bond between humans and nature. Dancers pound the stage in a united trance to depict a world where instincts have been industrialised and the body transforms, mutates, exults and fights for its survival. To haunting music by Ben Frost, the dancers take the shape of fossils, industrial machines, pagan gods and carefree golden youth.
Eileen Gray: International Women’s Day 2020 at Royal Academy of Arts || Eva Jiricna & Libby Sellers (2 Mar 2020)
This conversation will bring together an architect and an historian to reflect on the work of Modernist architect Eileen Gray and revisit the relevance of her key buildings. Born to an Irish family, Gray came to architecture late, having initially engaged with interior design and the arts more broadly. Yet she became one of the best known supporters of the Modern Movement in her time. E-1027, her first and most recognised project, clearly follows the most avant-garde principles of her time and gives shape to ideas that were often confined to paper. From contested authorship and Le Corbusier’s blatant vandalisation, to being virtually abandoned until recent more successful attempts at renovation, the afterlife of this project demonstrates the changing narratives surrounding the women designers of the 20th century.
Nicholas Serota in Conversation at Whitechapel Gallery || Nicholas Serota & Nayia Yiakoumaki (12 March 2020)
To coincide with the exhibition The Return of the Spirit in Painting, Nicholas Serota is in conversation with Whitechapel Gallery Curator Nayia Yiakoumaki to reflect on a period of his directorship at Whitechapel Gallery that featured exhibitions by key late 20th century painters. Serota was Director of the gallery between 1976 and 1988, during which time he presented solo exhibitions of artists including Georg Baselitz, Cy Twombly, Anselm Kiefer, Malcolm Morley and Julian Schnabel. The conversation considers these exhibitions in context of Serota’s involvement with A New Spirit in Painting (1981) at the Royal Academy of Arts.
Feature image: Cao Fei, Nova, 2019, Video, 109’. Courtesy the artist, Vitamin Creative Space and Sprüth Magers