Monday 17 March 2014

ICA: Hito Steyerl // Richard Hamilton

The Institute for Contemporary Arts (ICA) never disappoints in its exhibition output. One of my top-pick contemporary culture spots in London, the space has recently reimplemented its super economical £1 Day Membership, leaving you with little excuse not to check out their currently running (and fully worth-ya-while) expo offerings: Hito Steyerl and Richard Hamilton. Here's a compact commentary on the two.

HITO STEYERL (5 Mar 2014 - 27 Apr 2014)
Berlin-based writer and visual artist Steyerl takes a tongue-in-cheek, satirical slant on mass media communication in our digitally driven age. Thought-provoking, cutting and entertaining all at once, her distinctive video installations examine the notion of going unseen in an era wholly consumed by image proliferation and visibility.

How Not To Be Seen: A Fucking Didactic Education. MOV File is an extremely wry and powerful (mock) instructional video on the art of attaining invisibility in the epoch of omnipresent over-visibility. If ya can sit through the mind-numbingly grating slow-mo TV voiceover, the step-by-step guide lends a pragmatic hand in swerving state surveillance and scrutiny; a virtually impossible undertaking in a climate of ubiquitous knowledge and digital data. With such suggestions as shrinking yourself smaller than a pixel, being female and over 50, or disappearing through the use of green screens, the proposed subversive strategies stir up some serious existential reflection.

From its title alone, Liquidity Inc. nods towards the film's principal concepts of liquid (namely water) and the economy. The 30-minute short pivots around protagonist Jacob Wood, who took the transition to a Martial Arts career after losing his job at investment bank Lehman Brothers. It's perplexing and absorbing, flitting between a balaclava-donning spoof weather forecaster ("your feelings are affecting the weather, and you are feeling not that great") and browser window pop-ups of curious animations. Weird but wonderful.

RICHARD HAMILTON (12 Feb 2014 - 6 Apr 2014)

If you haven't heard of Mr Hamilton, you'll most certainly have set ya eyes on the British artist's seminal works - his iconic Pop Art piece Just What Is It That Makes Today's Homes So Different, So Appealing? (1956), perhaps? In this impressive retrospective, the Institute looks back at some of Richard Hamilton's pioneering ICA-held exhibitions and collabs over the 20th century. Presented in partnership with Tate Modern's charting of his artistic legacy, it's a good and proper homage to his remarkable 60-year career.

The lower gallery harks back to Hamilton's 1955 display: Man, Machine and Motion. Arranged in a meticulous walk-through-able grid structure, the arrangement champions the possibilities of Man brought on by technology, specifically exploration. The re-staged installation stays true (as much as possible) to its original layout design, which can be spotted upstairs amongst the collection of rare archive material. Also found in the upper gallery is a re-installed an Exhibit (1957), Hamilton's totally abstract, subject-less display of precisely positioned perspex sheets. It's an altogether crackin' salute to a top talent.

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