Gallery Tour London
Lisson, SE8, Timothy Taylor

Issue no1
Feb-Mar 2019
Circulation

While the larger museums and institutions in London are busy determining who the most important British artists of the moment are (in exhibitions such as British Art Show 7 at the Hayward Gallery and Modern British Sculpture at the Royal Academy), commercial galleries take their chance of highlighting one of their represented artists in these shows. Haroon Mirza, whose work is currently at the Hayward, and Susan Hiller, currently at Tate, both get their chance in Lisson Gallery and Timothy Taylor Gallery. Next to the commercial galleries, some of the smaller institutions go their own way, as SE8 does with a collection of soundtracks made by artists.

Haroon Mirza

Lisson Gallery, on show until 19 March

In the first solo exhibition of the young artist in London, Haroon Mirza (1977) shows large installations with sound, light and video. The mixture of seeing and hearing is overwhelming when entering the gallery; not only do we see turning record players; we also hear the sound of the intentionally scratched record that is playing. A coin is bouncing on a speaker, and a string of little green lights is triggered by the music. Parts of the wall are covered with thick foam isolation material. Discarded household electronics, furniture and found video footage make up the installations. The gallery feels like a deserted studio space where a little boy has been messing around with the equipment.

Mirza describes the works as “unfolding compositions in time”, making the different installations become a larger musical work when walking through the gallery. The whole exhibition can be seen in parts, but can also end up evoking the feeling of a live performance by a progressive dj collective.

In group exhibitions, Mirza is very interested in curatorial concerns surrounding the effects that sound works have on other artworks, as can be seen in his work currently on show in the British Art Show at the Hayward Gallery. At Lisson, the gallery is truly Mirza’s domain, allowing his installations to develop in the best possible way, and become a grand musical performance.

The Half Shut Door

SE8, on show until 19 March

While sound and vision played an equal part in Haroon Mirza’s exhibition, the visual is completely absent in the exhibition The Half Shut Door at SE8 in Deptford. Thick black curtains have blinded the small space, and upon entering you cannot see anything. When your eyes slowly get accustomed to the dark, you can perceive a few black bean bags to sit on, and one stereo installation.

For this slightly unexpected non-visual art show, curators Nicolas de Oliveira and Nicola Oxley asked artists Hans op de Beeck, Dryden Goodwin, Stefan Brüggeman and João Onofre to create a soundtrack. Whereas a soundtrack is usually made to accompany a film, so to enhance the visual, in this case the usual gets inverted and results in sculptures of sound. The sound - sometimes pleasantly jazzy, sometimes no more than grey noise - develops in the dark space as almost being a new spatial material.

After a phase of being somewhat uncomfortable with the lack of physical work in the exhibition space, you grow accustomed to the experience of sound, as if our body is the sculptural.

Susan Hiller – An Ongoing Investigation

Timothy Taylor Gallery, on show until 5 March

So much noise as the exhibition at SE8 makes, so quiet is it at Timothy Taylor Gallery in Mayfair. Accompanying her large survey exhibition currently on show at Tate Britain, Timothy Taylor presents, quite unsurprisingly, an exhibition with works by Susan Hiller. This does trigger the thought that the commercial gallery’s show is just on to satisfy selling demand of the now so popular artist. It can however also be an opportunity for a useful and modest addition to the more spectacular works on show at Tate. The small gallery show gives an overview of some of the recent works in Hiller’s oeuvre. The familiar aura photographs are there, as well as the fascinating Homage to Yves Klein series, but also a recent sculptural installation. Homage to Gertrude Stein (2010) is a vintage desk filled with books. Books about automatic writing, a subject that Stein as well as Hiller was very interested in. In all of her ‘homages’, Hiller seems to link the work of the person she is honouring to her own work, making that new connection into a fascinating imaginative relationship.

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Magazine
Metropolis M Magazine for contemporary art No 1 — 2019