Originally published by Phoenix Magazine

There’s a lot to be said for independent creative spaces. For one, they do things differently to large commercial galleries; taking bigger risks, touting more controversy, getting closer to the artist, the subtext and the subculture around the creations displayed. As autumn descends, a little earlier than we’d hoped, we’re readying our cultural programmes for this season and know of a few well-respected haunts you should be visiting with us.

Francesca Woodman: Zigzag
9 September – 4 October
Victoria Miro Mayfair, 14 St George Street

In a short but impactful career, up to her death aged just 22 in 1981, Francesca Woodman produced over 800 black and white photographs famed for their surreal and haunting presentations of women, many of which were self-portraits. This autumn’s solo exhibition at Victoria Miro in Mayfair takes a new approach to Woodman’s work, considering the zigzag and other geometrical shapes as recurring themes in her work, showing how, though Woodman’s photography is often discussed in terms of its dreamlike form, it was grounded in sophisticated practice and precision. This one will be an eye-opener.

Marina Abramovic: White Space
17 September – 1 November
Lisson Gallery, 27 Bell Street

Hot on the heels of her acclaimed exhibition this summer at the Serpentine Gallery, 512 Hours, Marina Abramovic returns to London to exhibit a range of historic works at the Lisson Gallery, many of which have never been publicly exhibited. The exhibition features two of Abramovic’s sound pieces, video documentation of her early performances and a variety of photographs, all dating from 1971-1975. Taking its title from an early, immersive sound piece in a white paper room, the exhibition explores some of Abramovic’s first experimentations in the performance-based practice which is central to her work today.

Tracey Emin: The Last Great Adventure is You
8 October – 16 November 2014
White Cube Gallery Bermondsey, 144-152 Bermondsey Street

Emin says this recent collection of work concerns “rites of passage, of time and age, and the simple realisation that we are always alone”. The exhibition’s title, “The Last Great Adventure is You” was originally intended to refer to another person, but in the two year period spent creating this body of work she came to realise that the ‘You’ had become a retrospective exploration of self. The exhibition’s reflections are manifested in bronze sculptures, gouache paintings, embroideries and those iconic neon works. Her first exhibition at the London White Cube gallery in five years, this show is an exciting one.

Sculptors’ Papers from the Henry Moore Institute Archive
22 September 2014 – 22 February 2015
Whitechapel Gallery

London’s most radical and controversial public sculptures, both realised and unrealised, are presented in a display drawing featuring the vast array of sculptors’ papers owned by the Henry Moore Institute. Drawing on both the creative process and the political and critical debate surrounding the works, the exhibition will showcase the workings of and reactions to some of the most creatively and politically charged sculpture works from the beginning of the 20th century onwards. Take part in a programme of screenings, talks and tours and learn more about the physical construction of art in London.

Pierre Huyghe: In Border Deep
13 September – 1 November 2014
Hauser & Wirth, 23 Saville Row

It’s been quite a year for French artist Pierre Huyghe: he’s already held solo exhibitions in New York, LA, Cologne and Barcelona and makes a return to the UK this autumn to showcase his unique brand of multi-media art. Famous for his examination of film vs. reality and his use of fact vs. fiction, his art confronts the boundaries between fiction, cinema and actuality and makes use of creative images, video and installation. His first major solo exhibition in the UK since 2006 is not one to be missed.

 

Words: Rachel Michaella Finn | @rachelmichaella

Animals In The Walls-49

Originally published by CUB Magazine

Upon its publication in 1959, William S. Burroughs’ ‘Naked Lunch’ changed the face of literature forever. With its chaotic, rambling, surreal scenes of nihilistic, nonsensical hedonism, it became a benchmark for the dissemination of characters, events and ideas that defined postmodernism. And, predictably, with its graphic descriptions of sex and drug use, it shocked its mid-century audience.

It’s no surprise then that Burroughs’ artwork, much of which is only now properly being discovered and explored since his death in 1997, follows the same plethora of chaos which defined his work and his legacy. ‘Animals in the Wall’ is an exhibition that contains a wide variety of Burroughs 2D and 3D artwork alongside other multimedia creations from contemporary artists who have been inspired by his work. His body of work, most of which was created in the 1980s and 1990s, follow a common theme – art which was first created by a series of child-like paint scrawls and spray paint, enhanced by the addition of magazine cut-outs of skeletons, sharks, guns and pornographic images and then destroyed by bullet holes from Burroughs shotgun.

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Burroughs writings are starkly autobiographical, much of his work stemming from his lifelong heroin addiction. It was said the artist often painted with his eyes closed to allow his work to express his psyche rather than be influenced by aesthetic appearance. The gun theme, both in the images of guns themselves but also the bullet holes that form part of Burroughs destruction (or perhaps, creation) of his own artwork, is prominent: he accidently shot his own wife accidentally in 1951 and has previously said the remorse from the event created the wealth of emotion needed to launch his writing career.  This is the work of a man, seemingly up until just a few years before his death, still overcome by regret, anger and self-evaluation of self.

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Over forty works are included in the exhibition, including collaborations between Burroughs and other artists. One such collaboration is ‘Dreamachine’, a mind-altering work with painter and poet Brion Gynsin in which visitors are invited to stand in a dark room in front of a lightbulb contained within a spinning lampshade of cut-out shapes, in order to induce trippy shapes and visuals. Also included are artistic responses to work of Burroughs from the like of Shepard Fairey, Cleon Peterson and Mobstr. The responses, ranging from paintings to videos to sound installations all have one thing in common – an appreciation of disorder and a nod towards experiences of a chemically-induced nature. One such work used magic mushrooms as a paintbrush and another depicts a cartoon of heroin addicts injecting themselves – so parts definitely require an acquired taste.

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Much of the exhibition is uncomfortable, yes, but arguably Burroughs had anything but a comfortable life. His provocative work has inspired everyone from The Beatles to The Klaxons, but with this exhibition marking just the beginning of exploration into the artwork of the late writer, there’s no doubt there will be more of Burroughs’ stark reflections of self to come.

Image credit: Hyder Images

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Published by Phoenix Magazine

Imogen Heap wows us with her month-long cultural festival, Reverb, at the Roundhouse.

Pop-music as we know it tends to remain the sum of a set number of standard parts: a standard studio, a standard set of instruments, and standard recording software. But what would happen if we were to compose in reverse, to start with a final product in mind, to create it without any rules? This concept formed one of the central pillars of Imogen Heap’s ‘Reverb’ – a four-day festival showcasing an innovative collision of music, visual art and digital technology at the Roundhouse.

A mix of performance, collaboration and interactive displays and workshops, ‘Reverb’ showcased the many ways in which art and science combine to produce and examine truly intriguing ideas. In a Q&A on the first day of the festival, Imogen, the multiple Grammy nominated musician of ‘Hide and Seek’ fame, told the audience she sought to “break the fourth wall between the audience and the performance” to create an immersive experience with Reverb.

Perhaps one of the most dynamic representations of this was a performance and interaction session with Bruno Zamborlin’s ‘Mogees’. A device that can be attached to any object (a chair, table, possibly even to your dog, provided it doesn’t mind) in order to turn it into a musical instrument; once attached, you simply ‘play’ the object with a series of taps. A Mogee will sense vibrations turning them into sound. Bruno played us an array of everyday objects to a mesmerising trance backbeat amid trippy videos. It was weird, kind of ridiculous, and completely ingenious.

Other installations included Imogen’s ‘Arboreal Lightning Tree’ – a huge LED tree in the Roundhouse’s main performance area that glowed in a sequence of transformative colours and patterns in response the sounds issuing from the stage. There were machines that emitted noises based on the proximity of the listener; a device that allowed users to compose their own song out of hundreds of mutually compatible sound bites, and most ingenious of all: Imogen’s own famous Musical Gloves.

Fitted with sensors to measure movements of the wearer’s hands, the Musical Gloves allow you to play almost any instrument virtually with a set of programmed hand movements. Incredibly, wearable tech now means that you can play the air drums and call yourself a legitimate musician.

Although much of what’s on display at Reverb is not yet available to the general public, the festival has offered a glimpse into the future of technology, its influence on pop music and performance and the possibilities of music production when experimental thinking is applied. Not only did Reverb succeed in breaking the wall between audience and performance, as Imogen Heap had hoped, it allowed the audience to become a direct part of the performance themselves. It was a festival of musical democracy, although for those crazy about the Mogees, there’s no accounting for taste.

http://www.roundhouse.org.uk

Words: Rachel Michaella Finn

Royal Blood

Published by A Music Blog Yea

2014 has been an interesting year for rock music – or apparent lack thereof. From Alex Turner’s controversial Brit speech this year where he proclaimed that rock ‘n’ roll “will never die and there’s nothing you can do about it” to Kasabian guitarist Serge Pizzorno telling the press last week that he considers his band “one of the last rock ‘n’ roll bands around”, the rock music community seems to be divided. Is rock ‘n’ roll finally dying a death? Royal Blood sure hope not.

Whereas 2013’s BBC Sound Poll alone tipped rock bands such as Haim, Peace, Savages, and Palma Violets for success, this year’s BBC Sound Poll only included one rock act – that act being Royal Blood – amongst a plethora of pop and R&B. Compiled of drummer Ben Thatcher and bassist/vocalist Mike Kerr, Royal Blood are one of a set of promising new rock bands tipped to give rock a friendly kick in the backside. With their dark and heavy basslines and a waltzing snarl of a vocal, the two piece are set to give ‘drum and bass’ a brand new meaning with a sound that’ll blow your eardrums in a good way. It’s slick, seductive, and pretty damn loud. Perfect listening for those who like their music a little heavier, but aren’t quite ready to become a metalhead.

The band first entered the public consciousness when Arctic Monkeys’ drummer Matt Helders wore one of their t-shirts during their Glastonbury 2013 headline set before they’d even released their first single. Since, they’ve supported the band with an impressively energetic and heavy setlist for two nights at London’s Finsbury Park reporting the Arctic Monkeys themselves, as well as releasing three singles showcasing a hard rock sound with its roots in garage rock and blues.

Their debut album drops in August, but in the meantime, take a listen to latest track ‘Hole’ below:

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Review by Rachel Michaella Finn |

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