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Mark Leckey: O’ Magic Power of Bleakness review

Art Tate Britain , Millbank Until Sunday January 5 2020
4 out of 5 stars
Mark Leckey: O’ Magic Power of Bleakness review
Mark Leckey b.1964Dream English Kid, 1964 –1999 AD2015 (still) Image courtesy of the artist © Mark Leckey

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

‘He’s away with the fairies!’ shouts a young guy midway through ‘Under Under In’, Mark Leckey’s latest film. The narrative work, shown across multiple screens, is inspired by the myth of changelings, little fairy children left in place of real babies like cuckoo chicks in another bird’s nest.

And, to an extent, so is everything else in this dreamy, intoxicating exhibition. Tate Britain’s right-side galleries have been given the open-plan treatment to accommodate a life-size replica chunk of the motorway bridge Leckey saw fairies under as a kid. Along with the new work, two of Leckey’s earlier pieces, ‘Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore’, which chronicles the underground club scene from northern soul through to ’90s rave, and ‘Dream English Kid’, a splicing of images relating to the artist’s early memories, are also projected onto the walls of the brutalist cave.

Watched together across the whole of the show’s 55-mintute durational loop, the three pieces overlap in new ways. The mischievous spirits and parallel worlds seen by the brake fluid-sniffing teens in ‘Under Under In’ seem to reappear in ‘Fiorucci’, where dancing, drugs and music transforms people into mortal changelings. Likewise, in the other footage, relocation from north to south has the power to leave a person floundering like a tiny abandoned baby.

The under-the-bridge location is obviously important to Leckey, the cool concrete slabs near-mystical in their ability to channel spirits. But the bigger force still is the ‘bleakness’ of the title or, more accurately, the absolute boredom experienced by teenagers and young people. The mindfuck banality of sitting on a car park bench, or a motorway embankment, evening after evening, week after week. The beigeness that, if you’re lucky, conjures fluorescent rainbows in an artist’s mind – or, fairies.

By: Rosemary Waugh



Venue name: Tate Britain
Venue website:
Venue phone: 020 7887 8888
Address: Millbank
Transport: Tube: Pimlico/Vauxhall
Price: TBC

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