Magazine: Issue 15
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Preview: Deptford X
Deptford X Festival ‘Deptford X is a public fête. Deptford X is a workshop. Deptford X is a hat to try on.’ Artist Bob & Roberta Smith Launching on the 27th July the streets of Deptford will play host to Deptford X - London’s biggest, brightest and longest-running contemporary visual arts festival. Established in 1998, the festival was born from a desire to celebrate Deptford’s vibrant creative community - which boasts one of London’s most densely populated collection of artists - as well as the organisers unwavering belief in the 'limitless potential' of the area. Showcasing the very best in contemporary visual art, the festival unites established international artists with local creative talent. Central to the ethos of Deptford X is to celebrate and showcase visual art to the widest possible audience, and to engage the local community in order to bring about social and economic benefits to the local area. Indra Channa & Hew Locke courtesy of Deptford X This year's festival runs parallel to the Olympics and is co-curated by artist Hew Locke and curator Indra Khanna, who prepared this artist statement for the festival: 'Surrender to the pleasure of the decorative. Revel in the excessive, embrace it and be dazzled. A stall stacked with lurid artificial flowers, rhythmic serpentine graffiti, baroque mermen carved over the old town hall door: all are equally a joy to the eye. Indulge yourself. But there is more than just the surface. Layers of decoration contain levels of meaning, messages and codes. Symbols of power, conspicuous consumption, signals of elitist knowledge, patterns of control and signs of social belonging.' Locke and Khanna sought a range of artists with a unique response to this provocative statement. The festival's main programme will consist of five major projects chosen by the curators, with three artists selected to create solo presentations: Doug Jones, Henna Nadeem and Dzine. The centerpiece of this year's festival will be Gold Standard, a major temporary installation by curator of the festival Hew Locke. Presenting a reworking of original share certificates, Locke uses the documents to explore the history and movement of money and an investigation into notions of power, possession and ownership. Exhibited at Deptford's Old Tidemill School, Gold Standard will be Locke's largest and most ambitious outdoor project to date. Hew Locke: Gold Standard (courtesy of Deptford X) London-based artist Henna Nadeem will be re-imagining her 2006 work 'A Picture Book of Britain', where she sourced picturesque photographs of quintessentially British scenes from magazines such as Country life; photographs symbolic of an idealised and nostalgic vision of Britain. During Deptford X, a selection of Nadeem's images will be on display on a large-scale external wall that leads pedestrians from the Olympic site in Greenwich all the way into the centre of Deptford. Dzine's exhibition for Deptford X is 'Phenomenon' at Bearspace Gallery on Deptford High Street. It is the first UK solo show for the Chicago-based artist who represented Ukraine at 2007's Venice Biennale, and was a graffiti artist before moving into contemporary art. In his exhibition Dzine attempts to capture the spirit of 'Szwaybar' - a phenomenon that is exclusive to the youth of Dutch-Caribbean island Curacao. Szwaybar refers to motorbikes that have been heavily customized and altered, but as motorcycles are financially out of reach to the youth of Curacao, many create an imitation of these motorbikes from bicycles. These bicycles are frequently their only means of transport, despite them recently being made illegal by local police. Taking inspiration from these custom-made bicycles and from the Curacao youth who create them, Dzine has created a sculpture partially produced on the island and presented on a highly decorative and ornate pedestal. It is displayed both as an idealised symbol of desire and a dedication to the youths that view these Szwaybar bikes as the ultimate expression of personal identity and status. Dzine Phenomenon (courtesy of Bearspace) In addition to the main headline artists, the festival will feature over 50 fringe exhibitions and events. The fringe programme has been selected by the Deptford X committee from a submission open to all artists, offering everyone the possibility of having their artwork exhibited at a high profile event alongside renowned international artists. The result is an eclectic and vibrant mix of fringe artworks often displayed in a space equally as eclectic; venues encompass everything from charity shops, a butchers and a double-decker bus to name but a few. Art is displayed as much as possible in the public domain. From life-sized vinyl horses to a wall drawing in Deptford train station that alters in response to the changing light, the everyday environment of the area is totally transformed for a few weeks. Far from being confined to the gallery space, art permeates everything. Deptford X celebrates the gritty urban environment, utilizing its very streets as its canvas and playground. Deptford X 2012 runs from 27 July to 12 August 2012. For more information or a full programme of all exhibitions and events visit: SLAM are conducting walking and cycling tours (is association with Artouride) during the weekends of the festival, visit here for more information and booking. The opening of Deptford X coincides with SLAM Last Friday's where galleries in the Deptford area will be open late. Click here for more info. Harriet Black
Spotlight: Horatio Jr
SPOTLIGHT ON HORATIO JR The Lord Nelson, 66 Canon Beck Rd, Rotherhithe, SE16 7DN South London Art Map is pleased this month to be spotlighting a relative newcomer to SLAM: Horatio Jr. Horatio Jr is an exhibition and project space which has to date given 5 promising new graduates the space and freedom to put on exceptional shows, with more to come. Located in a converted Victorian pub, The Lord Nelson, in Rotherhithe. The unique space previously played host to a series of ad hoc exhibitions and installations, now formalised as a permanent exhibition space alongside live-work artists’ studios. Rachel Price steals some precious time with Goldsmiths graduate & artist, Thomas Kitchin, who runs Horatio Jr: RP: Tom, great to be speaking with you today, all seems to be going well with the ever-expanding project. Since your launch earlier this year you’ve shown a diverse range of artists - namely: Graham Reid, Pennicott & Fleming (interestingly the first collaborative duo to be accepted into the RCA), Mark Essen and Mark Melvin. This isn’t your conventional gallery space, so what considerations must you take into account when selecting artists to show here? Mark Essen , Installation View, Horatio Jr (2012) TK: I’d been looking to establish a space that moved away from the typical \\\'top down\\\' gallery structure, whist I’ll admit to a few suggestions (perhaps even nudges), from the outset I was weary of a curatorial program as such and have selected artists I consider strong enough to work and flourish with us. RP: Previous exhibitor Graham Reid, whose subtle and occasionally not so subtle architectural and spatial interventions seemed like an uncannily fitting choice for the space, and as a result produced a noteworthy first show for Horatio Jr. How do you keep your programme fresh and artists challenged show to show? TK: I suppose in many ways I’m spoilt with a large and expanding network to select from, but I can’t lie, I’m really picky! I’m pleased you’ve found the selection fresh. This is something I’m hoping to maintain as we expand. I enjoyed Graham’s response to the space and have invited him back next February. Graham Reid , Installation view, Horatio Jr (2012) RP: How do artists normally respond to the space? TK: It is always music to my ears to hear \\\'Wow this is amazing\\\' often followed by \\\'you know what I could do here, have you got a tape measure?\\\' Sorry if this sounds cheeky but there is always excitement and energy associated with the first visit. I also really liked Mark Melvin’s re-fabrication of the old sign that hangs over the corner of Albion St and Canon Beck Rd, this will remain as a permanent piece. Mark Melvin ‘The Words End’ (2012) RP: For you, what makes a good exhibition? What have you seen lately that propels you? TK: I’m open minded and find that bad shows and underused space often propel me as much as great ones. However, for me Tillmans’ installations and certainly his project space (now on hiatus) as well as the defunct Hauser and Wirth Copper Mill space. Locally the South London Gallery and Ill always take the train ride to Dia Beacon when in New York. RP: You show a lot of artists who have graduated from major UK art schools: Goldsmiths, RCA, etc. Are these schools still a seal of quality, or do you think the most exciting artists will emerge despite their training? TK: I think we all know Art schools (education institutions in general) are struggling, mostly due to finance and its knock on effects (class sizes and tuition cuts) perhaps this is discouraging to potential candidates and a strain on those studying. In answer to the question though I think exceptional talent will always emerge. RP: Your focus at Horatio Jr seems to be exposing the work of promising emerging artists by providing them with the time and space to produce solo exhibitions. Are we ever likely to see a group show from the space or is it a deliberate move to steer away from this format? TK: I typically find group shows quite limiting, often more focused on ‘curatorial prowess’ than the artists’ work, so this is certainly a considered decision to focus on solo shows. On a personal level I enjoy a close working relationship with individual artists to realise their shows. It’s more likely you’ll see an auction at Horatio Jr next year than a group show! RP: Working with SLAM we cannot ignore your geographical location, we also haven’t failed to notice you are one of the first exhibition spaces to crop up in Rotherhithe (with your closest neighbours being in Bermondsey). Is there a sense of isolation or do you use it to your advantage? TK: We are pretty close to V22 in Bermondsey actually but very happy to promote Rotherhithe on the map. Our neighbour’s love the space, which is great and I suppose we’re more of a destination venue rather than a \\\'swing by\\\'. We’re also very fortunate being a stones throw from the Thames and some excellent pubs! RP: You’ve been working to expand your project space, and open on July Last Friday (27th) with RCA Graduate, US/UK based artist Rob Bellman’s show ‘Captain Hardy Taste the Gumbo’. What made you approach this artist, and what can we look forward to from his show? TK: I studied with Rob at Goldsmiths and have always enjoyed his engaging and dynamic installation spaces. Expect gumbo, margaritas and music to welcome us into our extended space! Rob Bellman, courtesy the artist & Elevator Projects RP: So, if you have not yet visited Horatio Jr, July Last Friday will be the perfect opportunity! Tom, many thanks for your time, and all the best for your future programme! Rachel Price Horatio Jr is open on the Last weekend of the month, with late opening until 10pm for previews and SLAM Last Fridays. Exhibitions can also be viewed by appointment. Please contact:
Review: Bold Tendencies 6
Bold Tendencies 6 Peckham Multi-Storey Car Park Until 30 September Most people would actively avoid an abandoned multi-storey car park in Peckham. And for three quarters of the year they still do, but come the summer Bold Tendencies (now in its sixth year) opens and the art cognoscenti descend from far and wide for Peckham’s moment in the spotlight. Coordinated by Hannah Barry Gallery, the sculpture project invites artists to create new site-specific works for the upper levels and roof of the car park. The massive concrete space combined with stunning views of the city combine to offer a unique challenge to the artists selected. Seven Split Overglide, Mary Redmond, Bold Tendencies 6, Peckham, 2012 There is also now a paradox in the presence of the hugely popular Frank’s Campari Bar which, under a strikingly designed awning, occupies one end of the roof. It’s a great place for a drink, but as it has become more known amongst people with less of an interest in contemporary art, it has arguably started to overshadow the exhibition itself. It’s now more common to hear people talking of visiting Frank’s than visiting Bold Tendencies. Byobu, Laura Buckley, Bold Tendencies 6, Peckham, 2012 This only adds to the challenge facing the commissioned artists. Not only do they have the physical space and surrounding views to try and somehow engage with, but the likelihood of many people walking by giving their work just a passing glance. Perhaps not unlike a ‘public art’ setting, these factors combine to inevitably push the artworks towards the monumental as they seek to command attention. The most interesting works this year are not those on the roof which are somewhat underwhelming (Martin Westwood’s giant farfalle pasta shaped extrusions of clay bringing to mind ruined ancient pillars perhaps being the exception), but two immersive installations each occupying a whole section of the floors below: Pere and Terre Hanging Out at Bistro Repetere, Martin Westwood, Bold Tendencies 6, Peckham, 2012 Sarah Cain presents a series of works made in situ, which combine to give a sense of walking across a giant painting (indeed there are several large areas where she has painted directly onto the floor). The various elements she presents all use the grid-like pattern of the car parking bays, a pleasing link between the physicality of the space and that much used element of painterly composition. Half a floor below, Mary Redmond’s expansive installation Seven Split Overglide contrasts narratives of arboreal beauty and the industrial. Despite the stark concrete context and her use of paving slabs and corrugated metal the work creates a strong sense of walking through a forest interspersed with lakes. The thickets of bamboo make one pause to consider whether they are holding up the floor above or perhaps carry on up through to it, and the crumpled metal shapes have a lightness of form suggesting they have been blown into place by a gentle breeze. Pere and Terre Hanging Out at Bistro Repetere, Martin Westwood, Bold Tendencies 6, Peckham, 2012 Bold Tendencies is well worth a visit this summer. Enjoy a drink at Frank’s and marvel at the view, but please give the art a proper look too. And pass on the word about a fascinating, unique exhibition which happens to have a great place for a drink at the end of it… not the other way round. Adam Walker
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