This is a review of an exhibition called “The Infinite Mix”.
It is a series of contemporary sound and image pieces which were exhibited in the Hayward Gallery in the South Bank Center. The exhibition is open to the public from the 9th of September to the 4th of December 2016.
These pieces of work explore various themes through a combination of sound and moving image. Some of the pieces are multi-screen installations, 3D videos, and screen projections. All of the material was looped, which I suppose is why they called this exhibition “Infinite”.
The first piece was by Martin Creed entitled Work No. 1701, 2013. This was a video of a street in New York where people with disabilities crossed the street with a catchy song playing as the backdrop.
The second piece was created by Stan Douglas, Luanda-Kinshasa, 2013. Musicians filmed in a seemingly endless Jazz jam session play on various instruments – my favourite was the drummer.
The third was called THANX 4 NOTHING (2015) by Ugo Rondinone. A 360 multi-screen installation performed in a TV studio and on the stage of Palais des Glaces theatre in Paris, this piece is beat poet John Giorno thanking “everyone for everything” on his 70th birthday.
Number four by Kahil Joseph entitled m.A.A.d., 2014. This is a two screen installation of visual material exploring an African-American neighbourhood in Los Angles with rap music backdrop.
The fifth piece was created by Jeremy Deller & Cecilia Bengolea called Bom Bom’s Dream, 2016. This is a film based on a character called Bom Bom, and her adventures in the Jamaican dance scene.
Number six is by Rachel Rose, Everything and More, 2015. This piece looks at the experiences of US astronaut David Wolf as he looks down on Earth from space and the disorientation he feels upon his return.
Piece number seven was by Cameron Jamie, Massage the History, 2007-9. A description taken from the exhibition map; “footage of young men in Alabama performing an erotically charged, provocative dance with living-room furniture in middle class homes.”
Elizabeth Price created the eighth piece entitled K, 2015. This is a mixture of photographs and CGI animation visuals with a text-to-voice narrative exploring the idea of professional mourners.
Number nine is an opera piece by Dominique Gonzales-Foerster entitled OPERA (QM.15), 2016. A recorded performance displayed 30 metres from the audience as a holographic-type image, it creates an eerie spectacle.
Last but not least is a 3D film by Cyprien Gaillard called Nightlife, 2015 and Ammonite Dub, 2015.
Let me be frank: the most enjoyable thing I found about this was the view of the London skyline from the top floor. Notice that I don’t use the word “artist” or “art” above – that’s because I don’t understand what is artistic about these films. (The descriptions above were based on the exhibition leaflet)
Some of the work was interesting, but most of it I didn’t really like. I felt that it was only there to inspire shock value, like so many of the things (= “art pieces”) that are out there at the moment.
From the main entrance you would turn left, and enter the first room through a corridor which was pitch black. (This was the case for most of these pieces) The heightened sense of anticipation was immediately ruined by what you saw at the end of the stumbling and fumbling.
The first thing I saw of the first piece, was a man who was paralyzed from the waist down. He was dragging himself along the ground at a pedestrian crossing in New
York City to the back drop of this really hip, cheery song. I then sat through the whole thing, because it turned out that I had walked in just at the end of it. (All of these pieces were looped, but some of them were really long) After watching the entire thing, I felt slightly less perplexed, but still uncomfortable. I felt this was done with really poor taste. Even though it was meant to celebrate people with disabilities, I felt it was quite demeaning and rude. I think that more of the context should have been placed into the film, because as it was, I didn’t think it did anything good. With this impression, I then proceeded to explore the rest of the exhibition.
The second piece I wasn’t able to sit through. It was an out-of-tune cacophony of people playing instruments. The video was interesting because it was wonderful to see how passionate these people are, but the sound was unbearable in some parts.
The third piece was one of the best. THANX 4 NOTHING was brilliant. It was one of the things that stood out for me. It was a monochrome recording of John Giorno performing a poem he wrote on his 70th birthday. Alternating between various angles and footage on over 10 screens, it was a really dynamic way to present the expressive performance.
Image above: THANX 4 NOTHING installation.
Here are some of my favourite quotes I managed to write down:
“May every drug I ever did make you high.”
“May all the suicides be songs of aspirations.”
“Thanks for taking everything for yourself and giving nothing back.”
“Huge hugs to all my friends who betrayed me.”
“May you with the diligence of olympic athletes do meditation practice.”
The entire performance lasted around 24 minutes, and the things I wrote above are only some of the wonderful things this man said.
I liked the fourth piece because it showed the real America. It showed the struggle these people have to go through everyday.
To get to the fifth and sixth pieces, I had to climb up to the top floor on a staircase that was absolutely tragic. It was one of those modern steel structures that had gaps in between each step, and when you’re someone who is afraid of heights, getting to the blimmin top meant I managed to get up there bathed in sweat with my head swimming.
My efforts were rewarded with Bom Bom and Everything and More. I only remember the Bom Bom piece because that burned itself onto my retinas. It was a weird combination of bad green screen and random twerking. To top it all off the creators decided to stick a chameleon on top of the live action footage.
I then decided to move on to the final four. To get there I had to walk down the stairs and through this random cafe. Once there, the
first film I saw was men dry-humping furniture. I stayed for less than a minute. For this one, walking in and out enabled me to understand the gist of the film.
Most of this floor I skipped. What caught my attention though was number nine – the opera piece which was lip synced by the performer of an opera piece done by someone else. It was projected by using a pepper’s ghost optical illusion (I think). The image was projected a really long distance away from the viewing area, and the figure, clothed in red, looked extremely eerie at the end of the black corridor. This piece felt uncanny. I knew the woman wasn’t standing there but it really looked like she was. She also looked like she was levitating, which added to the eerie atmosphere.
Number ten was my first ever 3D experience. In order to view this piece you had to wear 3D glasses. Plants in constant motion were recorded and the footage was manipulated, so that some of them looked like tendrils and tentacles. The moving elements looked like they were dancing and had a completely different life from how I would perceive them normally.
By the end of this exhibition I ended up with a massive headache from the deafening music and the high contract of pitch black and color projections. I was exhausted from walking through the large, cold space (which felt like an abandonded warehouse). The exit was through the back – next to a car park and some bins.
Overall I was just generally confused by this; there were two things I liked and the rest left me wondering what in the world??!?!?!