The Return of the Real

The Return of the Real

Quoting the title of Phil Collins' 2006 exhibition that investigated constructed reality of "reality tv", itself echoing the 1996 title of Hal Foster’s analysis of contemporary art at the end of the 20th century, the phrase is re-contextualized here to describe this unprecedented moment of contemporary life. After months of lockdown, and virtual consumption of visual art, the experience of art in a gallery space, IRL (in real life), is to be celebrated and appreciated more than ever. As reality and fiction battle daily on mediated screens, projecting and reflecting a veritable hall of mirrors, the exhibition offers an experience of individual direct perception.

The exhibition features new and recent work by Kelly Akashi, Mark Dion, Olafur Eliasson, Meschac Gaba, Liu Shiyuan, Jónsi, Mark Manders, Lisa Oppenheim, Analia Saban, Sarah Sze, Gillian Wearing and Nicole Wermers. Over the course of the summer, new works will be installed and rotated into the exhibition by Tomás Saraceno, Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg, Ernesto Neto and Sandra Cinto among others, encouraging return visits.

Relationships of scale, textures and patterns abound: the woven acrylic strands of Analia Saban’s ainting and Meschac Gaba’s braided architectural model of the Washington monument; the concentric circular pedestal representing Kelly Akashi’s heartbeat and the circular trays of Nicole Wermers’ ashtray sculpture; the spilling light of Olafur Eliasson’s “Return of the Arctic light sphere” and the dappled pattern of Sarah Sze’s gray stone mirror. These juxtapositions only reveal themselves to the viewer in the same space, as angles and perspectives shift and transition.

Elsewhere in the exhibition, Gillian Wearing’s latest self-portrait, Me as Julia Margaret Cameron and two muses, hangs near the sculpturally framed Liu Shiuyan’s “rebar” photographic collage. A new wall mounted sound sculpture by Jónsi presents a distorted sonic composition through a flower like configuration of trumpet speakers. Lisa Oppenehim’s silvery reflective celluloid photo-based works and Mark Manders bronze portrait bust make subversive use of tradition materials.

The Return of the Real

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