Mirrorcity: Twenty London Artists Explore Digital Age Realities And Consequences

J. G. Ballard

London is arguably one of the world’s centres for contemporary art and MIRRORCITY, opening this Autumn at the Hayward Gallery, shows recent work and new commissions by key emerging and established artists working in the capital today who seek to address the dilemmas, realities and consequences of living in a digital age.

J. G. Ballard believed that reality had already exceeded the visions conjured by science fiction by the end of the 20th century. Utilising the fact that we live in a new digital era,  the artists in MIRRORCITY respond to and address this new perception of the world. Artists have always created alternative realities but recently they have been exploring where the digital and the physical space cross over and fold into each other.  The exhibition considers questions specific to our time such as: how can we navigate the space between the digital and the physical? What is the effect of advanced technologies on our lives? What new emotional, conceptual, physical tools have we developed? What are the new forms or new ways of using or inventing language? The exhibition further explores the question: “What is our current experience of reality and the condition of our existence today?” The artists penetrate alternative spaces where the imagined, the physical and the virtual meet or mirror each other.

Presenting artworks in a wide variety of media including painting, film and video, sculpture, drawing, sound and performance, the exhibition addresses the effect of digital media on our experiences. The engagement, innovation and complexity of the works selected for MIRRORCITY also directly or indirectly reflect or mirror the multi-faceted character of London itself.

Works in the survey include:

Lindsay Seers presents Nowhere Less Now 4 (2014), a new version of a work originally conceived for a 19th century iron chapel in Kilburn. An arresting immersive installation, the structure of an upturned ship houses a film which blurs the boundaries between fact and fiction. Inspired by a photograph of her great, great Uncle who was a sailor, Seers explores memory through her own autobiography and finding fluid connections and coincidences between people and places, including the site of the Hayward Gallery itself.

Helen Marten will display new sculptural and wall works. These hyper-real yet seemingly ersatz assemblages juxtapose nature and commodity. Shifting continually between two-dimensional and three-dimensional modes, these latest works seek various methods of repositioning habitual experience, coaxing a sensation of delirious intoxication through a deceptive sheen of familiarity.

Susan Hiller’s new film Resounding (Infrared) (2014) combines sound frequencies and visual patterns translated from radio waves emitted by the Big Bang with a series of eye-witness accounts of extraterrestrial phenomena.

Turner Prize winner Laure Prouvost’s installation, The Artist (2010), invites the viewer into a space of intertwining stories and surreal narratives. A chaotic rendering of the artist’s studio which exists within the film that is shown inside, Prouvost invites the audience to physically exist within her ‘cut and paste’ world of confused subjectivity and information overload.

John Stezaker’s work combines and reveals different layers of reality using found imagery. Working in collage since the 1970s, Stezaker has been a forerunner in giving old images a new context and his analogue work is more relevant than ever to a younger digital generation. Stezaker will show a selection of silk screens and collages, many of which will be new for MIRRORCITY.

Anne Hardy presents two bodies of work which mark a departure from the artist’s usual practice. Known for constructing imaginary spaces and presenting these set-like installations in the form of large scale photographs; the artist exhibits Two Joined Fields (2013), a work which, for the first time, allows viewers to physically enter her sculptural installations. Hardy will also display large scale photographs on all three of the Hayward Gallery terraces – wrapping the building in an array of other realities.

LuckyPDF will use their extensive professional and social network to create a new commission, addressing the difficulties of living in London and which will aim to start a campaign to collectively vacate the city.

Katrina Palmer’s Reality Flickers (2013) is an audio work which provides the catalyst for obscure internal narratives and critical speculation. A highly visceral fiction, the piece combines the melodrama of death, sex and loss in a sculptural installation.

During the course of the exhibition, there will also be a series of newly commissioned performative works. Volumes Project (Frank Bock, Nicola Conibere and Martin Hargreaves) have conceived a strand of dance for the exhibition that will be performed by a selection of invited artists within the gallery space. Alongside Mirza and Butler’s new video installation in MIRRORCITY, the artists will host performative and discursive events; part of their ongoing body of work, the Museum of Non-Participation. Periodically, both Pil and Galia Kollectiv and Tai Shani will also incorporate elements of live music and performance into their work in the show.

New work in MIRRORCITY is by Emma McNally, Helen Marten, Daniel Sinsel, Susan Hiller and Michael Dean. New commissions are by LuckyPDF, Karen Mirza and Brad Butler, Tim Etchells, Lloyd Corporation, Pil and Galia Kollectiv, Aura Satz and Tai Shani.

Artists in the exhibition are in full: Frank Bock, Nicola Conibere and Martin Hargreaves (Volumes Project); Michael Dean; Tim Etchells; Anne Hardy; Susan Hiller; Lloyd Corporation; LuckyPDF; Helen Marten; Ursula Mayer; Emma McNally; Karen Mirza and Brad Butler; Katrina Palmer; Pil and Galia Kollectiv; Laure Prouvost; Aura Satz; Lindsay Seers; Tai Shani; Daniel Sinsel; John Stezaker and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.

A specially produced ‘alternative’ newspaper has been created by Tom McCarthy for MIRRORCITY. Conceived as collaboration between the author and the artists featured in the exhibition, artists have been have contributed a diverse and distinctive array of texts and pictures that McCarthy has edited into a startling and otherworldly reading

MIRRORCITY: 20 artists from London 14 October 2014 – 4 January 2015 Hayward Gallery


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