London: Four Exhibitions

There’s Art galore in London, didn’t you know?

I’ve been a little blocked lately.

Maybe it’s the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having.

It could also be the constant torrent of fast food that I’ve been stuffing myself with. The news hasn’t been all that sparkly lately – perhaps I’m being psychologically effected by the current affairs. Then again, there was that orange sun hanging over the sky a couple of weeks ago, I wouldn’t be surprised if that has something to do with it. I’ve also been sleeping a lot more than usual – sometimes 11 hours at a time, that’s not including the naps. Then there’s the video games: hours and hours of video games have led to me living a somewhat sedentary life, which probably isn’t helping the creative process…

In response to some of my questionable lifestyle choices I decided to take a trip back down to London to get a heavy duty enema – both physical and creative – and break free of this block.

Four installations are currently making waves in the London Art scene and I intended on poking my nose into all of them to suss out the hot air from the hot stuff.

First up was the new installation that has recently settled into the Imperial War Museum. Collecting over 40 artists’ work from both Britain and abroad, this much touted collection, Age of Terror: Art since 9/11, is certainly eye-catching but the thoughts it provokes are perhaps not as deep as they should be. Set within the cavernous surroundings of this iconic building, this exhibition still feels oddly crowded. Perhaps it’s the exhaustive range of styles or maybe the overly self-conscious thought that has gone into creating these pieces, but it all just feels a little contrived.

Having vacated my bowels in the IWM and feeling much better for it, I made my way over to the Royal Academy of Arts in Mayfair. Salvador Dali and Marcel Duchamp have long been touted as the heralds of contemporary art, holding the opposing flags of fussy surrealism and outright conceptualism high since the mid-40s. It might come as a surprise to many that the two legends of the art world were friends in later life – indeed their work has never been more obviously different than here, making for a truly exhilarating cultural flush that left me feeling conceptually purified.


Feeling increasingly cleansed, I eagerly scurry over to 180 the Strand, where Arthur Jafa, collaborator of pop royalty and occasional cinematographer, has pitched a tent to continuously screen his newest film which marries Kanye’s ‘Ultralight Beam‘ with a tightly edited video collage, painting a portrait of Black America that is bound to shock and move any one who hasn’t been paying attention to modern culture for the last 40 years. Yes – I’m taking the piss slightly. For all of it’s seriousness and opposing jubilant spirit, Jafa’s work feels like it’s pandering to a certain overtly liberal sentimentality…

I wanted to go to four galleries, I really did. Zhongguo 2185 is a Chinese exhibition fusing Sci-Fi concepts with a mixed media approach to our modern world, it sounded great, but I got hungry and fled to KFC – once I was done there I was already running late for my train. 

After one final natural enema on the train, I felt ready to get back to work once more. 

Watch my spaces.

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