White Cube Bermondsey, 144 – 152 Bermondsey St., London
January 28 – April 12, 2015
Continuing Marclay’s long-standing interest in the relationship between image and sound, the exhibition is comprised of a series of works on canvas and paper that feature onomatopoeia taken from comic books. Unlike earlier instances of sound mimesis in his work, these focus solely on the wet sounds suggestive of the action of painting. Combining cartoon-strip imagery and the dripping, pouring and splashing noises associated with gestural abstraction, the works ironically bridge a gap between art movements as distinct as Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art. This is also reflected in the method in which they have been made; a combination of painting overlaid with screen printing.
A further set of onomatopoeia is put in motion for the first time in a large-scale video installation which projects across four walls. To make the work, the artist collated a lexicon of the sound effects made by characters in superhero stories. The scanned swatches were then animated using the software programme After Effects in a dynamic choreography that suggests the acoustic properties of each word. ‘Boom’, for example, is no longer static on the page, but bursts into life in a sequence of colourful explosions, while ‘Whooosh!’ and ‘Zoooom!’ travel at high speed around the walls. The work fuses the aural with the visual, and immerses the viewer in a silent musical composition.
The aqueous motif introduced with the paintings runs throughout the exhibition, surfacing in a number of new works that allude to everyday life. In a new video installation entitled Pub Crawl (2014), the artist coaxes sound from the empty glasses, bottles and cans that he finds abandoned on the streets of East London, during early morning weekend walks. In a series of projections that run the length of the gallery’s corridor, these discarded vessels are hit, rolled and crushed, forming a lively sound track that echoes throughout the space.
A programme of weekend performances led by London Sinfonietta will take over a large section of the gallery and run for the duration of the exhibition. London Sinfonietta and Marclay will work together with some of the world’s most renowned contemporary composers and improvisers to stage performances, including new compositions and live improvisation sessions. The exhibition will also feature The Vinyl Factory Press, a unique hydraulic vinyl pressing machine created by The Vinyl Factory, and screen printing equipment operated by the London printmakers Coriander Studio. Audiences will be able to witness on site the unique process of producing vinyl records, from the initial recording of the concerts to cutting and pressing the records and printing the sleeves.
In collaboration with London Sinfonietta and The Vinyl Factory, there will be a dynamic programme of performances every weekend for the duration of the exhibition. Special guests on Saturdays, and London Sinfonietta on Sundays. Performances start at 3 pm.
All of the performances are free and open to the public, but spaces will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.