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  • Art
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
  1. © Smoking Dogs Films; Courtesy Lisson Gallery.
    © Smoking Dogs Films; Courtesy Lisson Gallery.
  2. © Djurberg & Berg; Courtesy of Lisson Gallery.
    © Djurberg & Berg; Courtesy of Lisson Gallery.
  3. © Djurberg & Berg; Courtesy of Lisson Gallery.
    © Djurberg & Berg; Courtesy of Lisson Gallery.
  4. © Djurberg & Berg; Courtesy of Lisson Gallery.
    © Djurberg & Berg; Courtesy of Lisson Gallery.

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Featuring video installations by a roster of big-shot artists that span decades, genres and continents, the latest show at the Lisson will send you through a spectrum of emotion: humour, intrigue, frustration and, yes, sometimes outright boredom.

Some films you’ll approach with eager-eyed anticipation, like Rodney Graham’s vividly coloured ‘Vexation Island’, with its slapstick humour and Robinson Crusoe-esque plot. Others feel like a feat of endurance, such as John Latham’s ‘Speak’, which blasts the viewer with ten minutes of psychedelic, strobe-like multi-coloured discs (better suited to the Pink Floyd gig they were originally screened at than alone, in a gallery, through headphones). Others are downright mesmerising, like Marina Abramovic’s video self-portrait, in which she aggressively brushes her hair while uttering the mantra ‘art must be beautiful, artists must be beautiful’ – a cutting critique of the feminisation and sexualisation of a simple daily routine. 

This exhibition attempts to merge the boundaries between performer and audience, so that inside the pavilion space – a maze of two-way mirrors and Japanese-inspired shōji panels – the viewer is simultaneously watcher and watched. It’s an uneasy feeling because we’re used to being in control of both our own image and those we choose to watch, so that to sit (or indeed stand) through reels of video on loop feels pretty antithetical to modern life. And no, binging three seasons of ‘Game of Thrones’ in one weekend won’t be enough prep for sitting through the work of 18 conceptual artists. Lisson anticipated this, which is why every week until August 25, it’s screening a different film from the exhibition online.  

‘Let’s see a performance that isn’t about the artist, or the ego; let’s see a performance about the world.’ So says the voiceover in Ryan Gander’s 25-minute-long animation. At times performance art can feel indulgent, but if you stick around long enough, issues of surveillance, propaganda, identity and the very meaning of art come to the fore. Though beanbags and cushions would most certainly be a welcome addition.

Written by
Kyra Hanson


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