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Have you heard about Art Night, London’s crazy Nuit Blanche?

 

Numéro spent a busy night out in London celebrating the first ever Art Night…

Linder’s performance in London on June 3rd. 

Photos: Linder

 

 

Drawing inspiration from Paris’s Nuit Blanche (all-nighter), Art Night has fresh ambition to inject a bit of contemporary art madness in the London night. For its first edition on Saturday July 2nd, the event featured work of 10 artists in 10 unexpected locations, surprising and exceptional, open until the early hours of the morning. While the event mainly took place in one extended neighbourhood, the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) did a terrific job of artistic direction. Next year another big player, the Whitechapel Gallery will take over the Art Night reins. In typically Anglo-Saxon style, the event wasn’t funded by governmental bodies but the agency Unlimited Productions with support from the auction house Philips and the Louis Roederer Foundation, keen investors in art (from the Palais de Tokyo and the Grand Palais to the BNF). 

 

 

 

SINGING IN THE RAIN

 

At 5pm and night not yet fallen, rain fell instead. The outdoor performance of punk artist Linder, celebrated for her collages and photomontages, was a wash out. The public sought refuge in the ICA to enjoy the rainbow from the terrace… and champagne a-go-go. The English artist who was given a retrospective by the Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris in 2013, had invited 60 performers including singers, dancers and models for an open air performance on the Duke of York Steps. "We could really imagine what it would have been like" the curator stoically commented. "With Linder it tends to be the same thing, collages, colours and a pop state of mind. But this time it was going to be set to music and happen live." And that will indeed be the case, just a little later than planned. 

One of Nina Beier’s “living tableaux” at the 180 Strand.

 

 

3D CINEMA REVISTED BY LAURE PROUVOST

 

Protected by the Admiralty Arch building, Laure Prouvost, 2013 Turner Prize winner offered her very personal version of a 3D film. The French artist invited the public to enter a dark room. He voice tells a wild story with a secret as projectors successively light up parts of the room. Random objects are revealed in tune with the tale, clues to a mystery the viewer is invited to solve. Much more exciting that a movie watched through 3D glasses…  

 

BETWEEN DAVID LYNCH and WES ANDERSON

 

A master at the art of story-telling, Laure Prouvost makes works that read like fiction with each one more surreal than the last. And this time the story doesn't stop as a slightly mad old lady kidnaps the spectators leading them to other rooms, like a very expected guest at a mysterious party. Everyone is forced to party in a five meter by three meter cubby hole while talking to zany characters who insist they met you at high school. It's a highly unusual cinematic moment caught somewhere between David Lynch and Wes Anderson.

 

 

A DEAD DOG IN A 5-STAR APARTMENT

 

Continuing in this surrealist vein, artist Nina Beier took possession of a luxurious apartment. In it she presented several different performances like a selection of tableaux. A dog plays dead on a Persian rug for several minutes. Several old men cover their faces with an anti-aging face mask (Anti-aging is the title of the piece) A young man, his back against the window on the terrace, smokes a cigarette… as if trapped in a vaporous eternity. In a world dominated by thirst for luxury and appearance, this reflection on time ticking by and death, echoing with our society’s refusal to get older, is particularly biting. 

 

The tube station pervaded by Koo Jeong-A’s scent.

 

 

 

THE SCENT OF A DISUSED TUBE STATION

 

Another big surprise of this Art Night came with Koo Jeong-A’s intervention in a tube station on a disused platform. Throughout the space the artist had infused a very specific odour of agar wood. Rather pleasant in this environment worthy of a bunker, almost reassuring, the scent gradually starts to offend the visitors, as if infected by its potency. And this is no coincidence. As the artist explains, “When this tree, which took 100s of years to reach maturity, gets infected, particularly by mould, it secrets a resin used for the creation of a scent that’s widely used for air freshener.

Stifling all the same…

 

ART LEGEND JOAN JONAS, AN ILLUMINATED SHAMAN

 

The highlight of the night was of course Joan Jonas’ performance in Southwark Cathedral. The pioneer of video art and performance presented an epic work combining film projections, drawings and her own presence on stage. Images of nature projected onto a giant screen or drawn directly by the artist, beautifully express the changing nature of the world and the movement of life at work in our environment. We’ll long remember the artist as an illuminated shaman, frenetically shaking rattles in front of a video showing the figure of a female goat in close up. A touch of poetry to end the night on... 

 

www.artnight.london

 

By Thibaut Wychowanok

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