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© Rob Battersby

Time Out Says

Founded in 1947 by a collective of poets, artists and critics, the ICA moved to its current location on the Mall in 1968. Here it offers exhibitions, arthouse cinema, performance art, philosophical debates, art-themed club nights and anything else that might challenge convention. In a scene awash with controversy-seeking work, its status as art's rebel institution faltered in recent years, but with current director Stefan Kalmár – whose CV includes stints at New York’s Artists Space and Munich’s Bonner Kunstverein – having joined in 2016, the ICA has started once again to deliver. This is the place where pop art was invented, and if you catch the right show here, you just might spot the next big art movement.


The Mall
Tube: Charing Cross
Admission free Tue; varies Wed-Sun
Opening hours:
Open noon-11pm Tue-Thurs; Fri-Sat noon-12am; Sun noon-11
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What's On

Nine Nights: Channel B review

  • 3 out of 5 stars

This exhibition was built to be performed in. Black art and sound collective Nine Nights - made up of members GLOR1A, Gaika and Shannen SP - have created Channel B as a series of stages from which to broadcast their ideas of black futurism and aesthetics. It’s a great, powerful concept, but when there are no performers there to ‘activate’ the spaces, does it work as an exhibition? Well, sometimes yes, but often no.  It starts with Nine Nights’ videos of DJ sets and performances streamed online during lockdown, before you enter a series of sculptural spaces designed to be performed in, all filled with futuristic columns and flashing screens. Upstairs you find a big stage set, bathed in orange light. The events - essentially gigs - happen occasionally throughout the show’s duration, but most of the time the gallery is just a gallery, and walking around it feels like you’ve shown up at a party way too early, or long after everyone’s already gone home. The best works from an exhibition perspective are GLOR1A’s excellent video sci fi manifesto for a black future and ‘Zen Projects’, a collection of films attacking the wellness industry that you watch from massage chairs. They’re clever, intense, interesting works made to be experienced as standalone pieces of art.  There are events happening on October 28, December 17, and January 17 and 28. That’s when this show will feel alive and vital. But for now, it feels very much like an empty stage set that's waiting to be filled.

Decriminalised Futures

Sex work has been a heated topic of debate ever since it has existed: forever. This group show features artists - many of whom have experience of the sex industry - using creative expression to explore the topic, taking in ideas of labour, migration, trans liberation and social justice in the process. 

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