White Cube, Bermondsey
Antony Gormley is best known for using sculpture to portray human existence in relation to a place or experience. Where the “body is not as an object, but a place”.
He presents to us 15 chambers in the White Cube gallery where you are taken on a journey from the minute you enter the door. Each chamber is decorated with either a single sculpture, which dominates a brightly lit, white, minimalistic room or a series of small, pronounced sculptures that cover the entire floor. The White Cube gallery is the ideal home for Gormley’s metallic, block-like constructions; upon entering through the glass doors you immediately forget the outside world and the space becomes a simplistic passageway that leads you to the artwork.
The exhibition works in a maze like manner, each chamber is connected to another and the audience is left to find their way through cleverly placed sculptures. Upon entering the first room you see the complexity of the metal rods intertwined to form an almost life-like energy, however, there are no explanations or names as you would usually see on a piece of card or on the wall by the sculptures like there are in other galleries. If you miss the fact sheet on the front desk of the gallery you are left to interpret the work as you see it. Gormley’s work ranges from intricately carved metal pieces to a passageway, to an immense 13-tonne concrete sculpture.
His piece BLOCK (2015) stood out to me and somehow connected with my memory of being a child in a playground. Each block of concrete is piled on top of one another as though they are Lego pieces. It stands on its own in the middle of the room giving me the impression of playground equipment, waiting to be climbed and explored.
PASSAGE (2016) a 12 metre-long tunnel, constructed in to the frame of a body takes control of the space as Gormley provides us with an experience. The piece beckons you to walk down it, in to the dark steel tunnel and offers a journey to experience something unknown. When stepping into the tunnel you’re unaware of what is at the end, the weathering steel walls and floor surround you and echo as you step forward making the experience quite ominous. One hand stretched out in front of you till the light disappears with your arms brushing the sides of the tunnel and suddenly you feel your hand touching the cool metal wall at the end. Upon realising the journey has come to an end it’s not as frightening as you initially thought and once turned around you can see the light at the end of the tunnel (literally) and begin your way back towards the rest of the exhibition.
Gormley’s exhibition comments on the metaphysical aspect of space, each abstract concrete or steel structure allows for a different interpretation. Through using different scales and complexities within each piece he has allowed us to see how each represent different forms of empathy and express different memories or showcase various experiences for us to be a part of.
My self-initiated project is based on the experiences I’ve felt and had and the memories that built a big part of my childhood. I’m inspired to create something of my own, just as Gormley has portrayed in his exhibition to comment on the relation between memory and experience.
Tate Modern London
Switch House Level 4 West
Living cities is exactly what the name says. Various artists from Newcastle, Beirut, Cairo, Los Angeles and Kharkov in Ukraine come together to examine modern cities and through different mediums express the contemporary “realities and complexities of urban life.”
The exhibition begins with a series black and white photographs of various places and people, captured by Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen who “records the inner city community in the years before her neighborhood was demolished.” Each photograph is displayed in a black and white frame and systematically placed between large empty walls. The photographs, whilst individually beautiful, become lost in each other, each meaning coming together to be something of a bland story. Without reading the pre-factual information the 1970 portraits loose their essence. Despite the display of the photographs, the contextual meaning behind them inspired me as I could relate to what the artist is trying to portray, something I will remember when constructing the layout of my self-initiated book.
Moving on through the rest of the exhibition the collaboration of different artists commenting on their personal experiences was immediately shown from the first glance at the room. A giant, aerial view of the city of Beirut by Marwan Rechmaoui is carved out of rubber and lies flat on the ground, being the focal point of the room. To my astonishment and slight worry there were children playing on it and people walking across the piece, which is not something you usually see in an exhibition. The resilience rubber holds as a material expressed the strength of the city to me, by the artist allowing people to feel, walk, run or lie on the piece captures an energy that you would only feel by being physically in that place. However, the uniqueness of the experience may not be evident from just seeing and feeling a rubber mat on the floor but once close enough you can see the indentations of every road and building placed in the city.
The rest of the exhibition exhibited photographs, collages, film, sculptures and so on, each commenting on either a political aspect of their city or where the city lies as a whole in modern times. I’m always in awe of artists who manage to successfully capture an experience and portray it to a third party, it’s something I hope to achieve in my self-initiated project.