30 September 2012

dOCUMENTA: A brief documentation

dOCUMENTA is an exhibition of contemporary art occurring every five years in Kassel, Germany. dOCUMENTA(13) took place from June, 9 to September, 16 2012 and was helmed this year by the Artistic Director Carolyn Christov-Barkagiev. Her curating sensibilities are informed by a wide variety of sources ranging from the sciences to feminist ideologies, some of which are reflected in the exhibition.

We had the chance to take in only a fraction of the mammoth exhibition (which still felt like a lot) as we only had 24 hours over two days. The works mentioned below are some of our personal highlights from dOCUMENTA.

At the Karlsauepark, a large eighteenth century park only a short walk away from the city centre, first impressions showed promise of an assorted sensory experience. It was also immediately evident that many of the participants subscribe to Carolyn’s belief that art is a renewable energy. A quite literal interpretation of that theory was manifest in artist, Song Dong’s Doing Nothing Garden; a fairly large man-made mound constructed from organic waste with neon Chinese characters randomly implanted between the plants and wild grass. The signs can be roughly translated as “Doing” and “Nothing”; This at first seems contradictory because a project of such proportions doesn’t just happen out of inaction, however it can also be appropriate as it questions our constant interference with nature and asks the question of what the outcome would be if it was left to its own devices.

At the Fridericianum, one of the main host venues of dOCUMENTA, we encountered more unexpected art works. In the surprisingly intense heat, Ryan Gander’s I Need Some Meaning I Can Memorise (The Invisible Pull); a light breeze blowing through the entire ground floor, was met with great appreciation. My travel companions however, had an inclination towards Ceal Floyer’s sound installation ‘Til I Get It Right. In this piece, the lines “I’ll just keep on/’till I get it right”, taken from Tammy Wynette’s song of the same title, play repeatedly, building expectation only to be met with frustration at the realization that there is no progression, only infinite regress.

Off the main sites, Theaster Gates’12 Ballads for the Huguenot House continues on with the subject of interference with intent to improve and revive. Gates, a multi-disciplinary artist, uses his skills in urban planning to restore the house, which was built in 1826 and was once home to Huguenots, France’s former religious exiles. Wandering through the three-story building we mostly see rooms that are set up as performance areas or have strategically placed videos of musicians, whilst on some walls there are notes on renovation plans. But then we turn a corner and notice hair straighteners, memory sticks and other items pointing to the fact that Gates and his team are living here throughout the duration of dOCUMENTA, further blurring the actual function of this building and space. Also, casually strolling through someone’s dwelling feels slightly intrusive.

On a wider scale, the use of urban spaces as a platform on which to present contemporary art is where dOCUMENTA(13) excels. Most impressive is the Ex-Elisabeth Hospital, which exhibited a range of works by Afghan artists. As if walking through a maze, we are met at every turn by impressive examples of challenging and thought provoking ideas such as Lida Abdul’s film What We Have Overlooked that deals with the constraining relationship between an individual and a nation. The large ballroom in the Grand City Hotel Hessenland is impressive also for its kitsch 70s interior.

All in all, I enjoyed dOCUMENTA as it transforms the usually mundane city of Kassel once every five years into a thriving center of artistic activity; an example of true creativity in the city.

Novuyo Moyo
Photography by Novuyo Moyo

27 September 2012

CreateVoice+ presents...Creativity in the City: David Ajasa-Adekunle

The third artist that CreateVoice will be working with is David Ajasa-Adekunle, architect and designer, and creator of Tetra-Shed, a modern architectural solution to space - it's been featured all over the world, including Grand Designs magazine, Wired, and Architects Journal in print, as well as digitally on sites such as Design Milk and was a finalist in the T3 Gadget Awards 2012. We hope that David's unique and innovative approach to space and form will be instrumental in creating a great outcome for the evening!

CreateVoice+ presents... Creativity in the City
November 2nd 2012

Laura Blair
Images courtesy of David Ajasa-Adekunle

21 September 2012

CreateVoice+ presents... Creativity in the City: Kate Gibb

 'Two birds'
 Bird Test, Royal Mail
 'Mono 1'
'What's mine is yours', 72 & Sunny
'My Best Friend is You' Kate Nash album artwork

Introducing the next artist that CreateVoice will be working with, in tandem with Jimmy Turrell: screen print artist Kate Gibb. Having studied Printed Textiles at Middlesex University, she moved onto an MA at Central St Martins like her partner for this project, Jimmy Turrell. Her spectacular screenprints have attracted work from a huge variety of creative genres: with her base in textiles she has worked for Dries Van Noten, Levis and Addidas; her involvement in visual art in the music industry is massive, including work for Bob Marley, The Chemical Brothers and Kate Nash (above); my favourite works of hers are the reissue of the back catalogue of H.G. Wells from Penguin. Gibb and Turrell are sure to be a fantastic pairing for the Creativity in the City event!

CreateVoice+ presents... Creativity in the City
November 2nd, 2012

Laura Blair
All images courtesy Kate Gibb

 Cover for HG Wells' 'A Short History of the World'
Cover for HG Wells' 'The Island of Doctor Moreau'

12 September 2012

CreateVoice+ presents... Creativity in the City: Jimmy Turrell

 Illustration of 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' for Pentagram and Heart Agency. Winner of Best In Book for Creative Review and first prize for Editorial Design in the Design Week Awards
 A personal project (with Tobias Rottger from design company Hort) based on 'Future Voodoo'
 Illustration for The Observer
Illustration for Bloomberg Business Week

The first artist that we'll be collaborating with for 'CreateVoice+ presents... Creativity in the City' on the 2nd of November is graphic designer and illustrator Jimmy Turrell. CreateVoice members met him at the Great Western Studios open day in July, and saw some of his works in the studio. Turrell trained at Central St Martins, and his style focuses on hand-drawn elements - his skill is easily seen in his illustrations and paintings which often form the basis of his graphic works. He has worked with many high-profile brands such as Nike, The Guardian, The Observer, The Times, Conde Nast, Channel 4, Addidas and many more. To get an idea of what might be in store, you can see more of his work on his website (designed by the talented agency Two Times Elliott, also in residence at Great Western) or on his blog. Stay tuned for the next artist, who will be working alongside Turrell as a duo: Kate Gibb!

CreateVoice+ presents... Creativity in the City
November 2nd, 2012

Laura Blair
All images courtesy of Jimmy Turrell

10 September 2012

V&A Objects: The Adoration of the Empty Throne

Name: The Throne of the Buddha
Material: Red sandstone
Date: Second or third century
Place of origin: Mathura, India
See it for yourself: Buddhist Sculpture, room 20, case WS

I think this is a really symbolic image of the Buddha. It depicts the Buddha in the form of a cushion flanked by two assistants. During the 100-200AD this was one of many forms of the Buddha and at it sends out a deeply philosophical message about one’s existence. Here one can see this element of absence that is treasured by the two assistants is a powerful portrayal of the Buddha.
In addition the way this piece has been carved is also equally important. This is because of the distinct portrayal of sincerity and close connection with the throne shown on the faces of the assistants, which communicate indeed their adoration of the empty throne. The 3D carving of the throne draws the viewer’s attention to the centre of the sculpture. 

Amaris Hussain
Photograph from the Victoria and Albert museum online archive

07 September 2012

CreateVoice+ presents... Creativity in the City!

Today CreateVoice received the very exciting news that all five artists we were hoping to work with on our November event, Creativity in the City, have confirmed that they would like to work with us! Over the next couple of weeks we'll be sharing a little more about each of the artists we're going to work with on the blog, and giving you all an idea of the kind of things you might be able to expect on the one-off event on November 2nd. We are very excited to work with such amazing artists, all based in the same studios - Great Western Studios - which we visited back in July. Stay tuned!

CreateVoice+ presents... Creativity in the City
November 2nd, 2012

Laura Blair
Images courtesy of the artists

01 September 2012

Artists in Residence: Rio Occupation 2012

All good things must come to an end, hence the celebratory closing ceremony of the Olympic Games. Something so poignant, that interrupted the crowd’s jubilation, was the handover of the Olympic flag. And soon the end of the Paralympic Games will signify the cease of London playing host to such a thrilling event.

While there might have been temporary feelings of despondency, things undoubtedly move on. And for the Olympics we look to Rio.

Rio Occupation London  was the month-long stay of 30 artists at the V&A, with them travelling from Brazil to the UK. Events occurred across the city, tied with the London 2012 Festival. From Somerset House to V22, there was always an occasion somewhere. 

The V&A museum acted as a base for three artists: Bruno Pineschi, a graphic artist and Head of Creation at HardcuoreEric Fuly , a visual artist and performer, and Robson Rozza, an actor and costume designer. 

Members of CreateVoice were given the pleasure of meeting the artists in residency. 

Rozza and Fuly were working in collaboration to create costumes for the grand finale of the Friday Late titled Going for Gold. "Larger than life" is what springs to mind recalling Rio's Carnival! Rozza and Fuly wanted to create characters costumes in the style of Carnival Puppets. CreateVoice members were invited into their 'world of pure imagination'. A compendium of images that coalesced on the wall acted as inspiration, a mood board. There were characters from Brazil, but also other more English fascinations, such as Mary Poppins and Pearly Kings. It was obvious what type of spirit Rozza and Fuly wanted to put into the costumes. Joining them as aids, we were told to, "create our own stories" on the items we were given. Imagination was given release; it was truly exciting working with them.

Bruno Pineschi worked in the other part of the studio. From a distance his project might not have looked as exuberant as Rozza and Fuly's task - however the plans were! Pineschi was looking to create nine thousand bananas. These bananas were to be made out of card nets, folded together to form the fruit's shape. As individuals, the bananas resemble a type of diamond cut rather than a banana. It’s almost to say as if they're the jewels on trees in Brazil. Amalgamated it's clear they are bundles of harlequin bananas. This is all for the Tropical Clusters Project. Taking the form of guerrilla art, the clusters are arranged around London and all over the V&A. For the inquisitive, this incongruous display should be a delight. 

If  we view the Rio Occupy as a taster of what to expect from Rio, Rio's Olympic prospects are enthralling, enough to galvanise one into the action of buying tickets for the games. I think I know where I'll be going in four years.

Article by Nelima Odhiambo
Photographs by Jazmine Rocks