The Infinite Mix

Art Free
Recommended
5 out of 5 stars
'The Infinite Mix' at 180 the Strand
'The Infinite Mix' at 180 the Strand

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

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Video art is so fucking boring. Okay, not always. Some of it’s great. Loads of it, even. But invariably, gallery shows of video art, especially group shows, involve countless hours of over-long, over-complicated, poorly shot nonsense in black and white, with loads of naked people reciting Baudelaire and rubbing ketchup into each other’s boobs.

Not at ‘The Infinite Mix’, though. This show is a collaboration between the Vinyl Factory and the Hayward Gallery (currently closed for renovation but stepping away from the Southbank for this offsite endeavour). It takes place in an immense, labyrinthine, leaky, graffitied, disused office block on the Strand, which has been filled with ten films that will make you totally forget all the shitty video art you might have had to sit through in the past. All the works dip their figurative toes into art, music and documentaries. 

It starts with Turner Prize-winner Martin Creed’s video of people crossing a street in New York. They hop, drag themselves backwards and crawl. It’s fun, immediate, approachable and quick. A neat way to kick things off. Then you get to Canadian artist Stan Douglas’s awesome ‘Luanda-Kinshasa’, which recreates a recording session at an iconic 1970s studio. The musicians are dressed period-perfect – flares, big afros, turtlenecks – and jam six hours of improvised afro-funk rock. It’s a fairly ludicrous, epic faux-documentary that’s trying to look at the African roots of blues and jazz, the return influence of funk on Afrobeat, and then Afrobeat’s own return influence on American music. A six-hour 1970s funk meditation on black culture? Yes please.  

Then Ugo Rondinone has filmed American poet John Giorno performing a piece to camera, displayed on 20 screens – it’s a sad lament, a goodbye to a lover and a career, and it’s wonderfully touching.

Wind your way through the maze of corridors and you get to Kendrick Lamar collaborator Kahlil Joseph’s ‘m.A.A.d.’, a video portrait of Compton, filled with sunshine, violence, poverty and hip hop. Then there’s Jeremy Deller and Cecilia Bengolea’s genuinely funny – a rare thing in art – CGI-filled semi-documentary about a tiny, dancehall-obsessed Japanese dancer called Bom Bom who travels to Jamaica. There’s an incredible holographic opera singer in Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster’s ‘OPERA’; an interview with a sad astronaut in Rachel Rose’s ‘Everything and More’; a bunch of suburban kids humping furniture in Cameron Jamie’s ‘Massage the History’ (seriously); a weird animation of a nylon stocking machine in Elizabeth Price’s ‘K’; and then a bunch of undulating 3D trees, drone footage from inside a fireworks display and long shots of a tree given to Jesse Owens by the Nazis when he won gold in the 1936 Olympics.

Does all that sound fun to you? Because it bloody should. Each piece is given proper space: there’s no sound leakage like you often get in shows of videos. Losing yourself in the corridors and then sitting in a specially built room for each film makes every one of them its own mini-experience. 

Everything here is shot through with music, dance, poetry, science or history – and you might walk away snobbily saying that what you’ve seen here isn’t art, that it’s a music video or a documentary, but get over yourself. Get over the boundaries and the pointless constraints. If you do that, you’ll find ten of the most engaging pieces of visual art you’ll see together all year. They’re full of passion, innovation, love, cleverness and emotion. Yes, the genres are blurred, and it’s about time they were. And if nothing else, you can’t say it’s boring

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