FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Today's date: August 31, 2012
Contact: Justin Hopper, guest curator, (412) 400-9250, firstname.lastname@example.org
The City & the City: Artwork by London Writers at Wood Street Galleries, September 28 - December 31, 2012
Famed authors examine ‘the city’ in a unique exhibition.
Pittsburgh, PA: Wood Street Galleries and guest curator Justin Hopper present The City & the City, a first-of-its-kind gallery exhibition of artwork by British-based new-media and installation artists who are best known as writers of nonfiction, novels, and poetry.
|Guest Curator Justin Hopper|
The City & the City presents an evening of readings, artist’s talks, and discussions with Caroline Bergvall, Rod Dickinson, Rachel Lichtenstein, Tom McCarthy, and Sukhdev Sandhu on Saturday, September 29, at 7:30 p.m., at SPACE gallery, 812 Liberty Avenue, downtown Pittsburgh.
Wood Street Galleries hours: Wednesday-Thursday: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Friday-Saturday: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Sunday: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. The gallery is free and open to the public. Wood Street Galleries is a project of The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Support for Wood Street Galleries has been provided by the Howard Heinz Endowment and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Additional support provided by the Port Authority of Allegheny County. www.woodstreetgalleries.org
About the Exhibition
The City & the City draws many of its artists from London’s burgeoning psychogeography movement – a cross-disciplinary movement of artists whose work examines peoples’ cultural interaction with the urban landscape. In that tradition, each of the seven London-based artists in The City & the City is an experienced and well-regarded visual and conceptual artist, but arguably better known for literary output ranging from creative nonfiction (Iain Sinclair), to novels (Tom McCarthy), criticism (Sukhdev Sandhu), and poetry (Caroline Bergvall).
The City & the City features five installation and new-media artworks by Caroline Bergvall; Rod Dickinson & Tom McCarthy; Rachel Lichtenstein; Chris Petit, Emma Matthews & Iain Sinclair; and Sukhdev Sandhu.
“In their artwork, as in their writing, these artists examine the cracks between fact and myth in the modern city,” says curator Justin Hopper. “They’re looking at spaces where language, images and objects intersect to create new ways of understanding the places in which we live. And they’re doing so at a time when transportation and communication technology make the places we inhabit less definitive than ever: when that role of relating people to their surroundings is increasingly an artistic one.”
Contact: For further information, print-ready images, interviews:
Justin Hopper (guest curator) – email@example.com or (412) 400-9250
Murray Horne (Wood Street Galleries curator) – firstname.lastname@example.org or (412) 471-5605
Rachel Tokarski (curatorial assistant) – email@example.com or (412) 471-5605
The City & the City: ARTISTS & WORKS
Caroline Bergvall: “Middling English”
French-Norwegian, but based in London, Caroline Bergvall’s (b. 1962) cross-disciplinary work incorporates multilingual poetics into both publications and performance-oriented, often sound-driven, writing projects. In “Middling English,” Bergvall combines the linguistic and poetic style of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales with modern London situations and slang to create a series of poetic broadsides – prints of poetry in the style of Enlightenment-era ballads and proclamations meant for the audience to take with them – and audio pieces in the style of a bard or town crier. Her practice sites her poetry, making it immediate and ephemeral as opposed to the contemporary relationship between poet and audience, which is too-often staid and static.
Rod Dickinson & Tom McCarthy: “Greenwich Degree Zero”
Rod Dickinson (b. 1965) is a British conceptual artist whose work engages themes of control and mediation and focuses on the way in which our behavior is moderated by feedback systems. He came to prominence, albeit anonymously, in the early 1990s as one of England’s original crop-circle makers, but is best known for pioneering historical reenactment as artistic practice. Tom McCarthy (b. 1969) is the author of the novels Remainder, Men in Space, and the Booker Prize-shortlisted C, for which he was described as “a young and British Thomas Pynchon.”
McCarthy’s artistic practice revolves around the International Necronautical Society, an affiliation of conceptual artists whose practice ranges from conventional installation work to multimedia, sometimes unauthorized, interventions. Dickinson and McCarthy joined forces in 2005 to create “Greenwich Degree Zero,” a multimedia museum-style installation documenting an alternate history in which the 1894 attempted anarchist bombing of the Greenwich observatory succeeded. (In truth, its perpetrator was killed by his own bomb’s premature explosion, though the event later inspired Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent.) “Greenwich Degree Zero” plays with ideas of institutional mediation of history and memory, and illustrates the way in which that historical memory becomes part of our cities’ landscapes, whether that history becomes common knowledge or is buried beneath our modern lives.
Rachel Lichtenstein: “Sight Unseen”
Rachel Lichtenstein (b. 1969) is one of the foremost writers of nonfiction considering London’s landscape and memory. Her debut book, the collaboration with Iain Sinclair Rodinsky’s Room, was published in 1999 by Granta in the U.K. and U.S. and has since been translated into French, German and Dutch. Her current work revolves around a three-volume series of creative nonfiction books about specific London streets: On Brick Lane (2007) and her new book Diamond Street (2012), about the historically Jewish diamond merchant’s street Hatton Garden, are both published by Hamish Hamilton.
Lichtenstein was trained as a sculptor and installation artist, and “Sight Unseen” acts as a meditative bridge between her research, writing, and artistic practice. A collection of found and fabricated objects related to her research into Hatton Garden, “Sight Unseen” exudes the secretive life of that neighborhood – a sculpture of dark velvet lined books, water from the underground Fleet River, small and invaluable century-old tools from the desks of jewelers, and the ghostly audio installation of an interview with a now-deceased diamond worker.
Chris Petit, Emma Matthews, & Iain Sinclair: “Flying Down to Rio”
Chris Petit (b. 1949) and Emma Matthews are London-based filmmakers whose work separately and together runs the gamut from installation video to art-house classics to commercial TV and cinema work. Director Petit is best known for the 1980 cult classic Radio On, a post-punk road movie and perennial presence in “top-100 British films ever” lists. For decades, Petit and Matthews’ work has included collaborations with writer and filmmaker Iain Sinclair (b. 1943), godfather of modern psychogeography, and the writer of record on the contemporary history and hidden cultures of East London.
Sinclair’s books include the seminal psychogeographies Lights Out for the Territory, a collection of “drifts” through London, and London Orbital, a walk around the city’s surrounding beltway. (The film of London Orbital was a collaboration with Petit and Matthews.) Sinclair’s earlier work included several volumes of poetry and fiction, which, likewise, imagined England’s terrain as being haunted by the cultural ghosts of its history – whether scarred by Thatcher’s revisionism, terrified by Jack the Ripper, or magicked by Renaissance architectural mystics.
“Flying Down to Rio” is one in an ongoing series of video installations Petit, Matthews and Sinclair have made together. The piece is a four-channel immersive video installation portraying a drive from East London’s borough of Hackney, north to the sea. Literal camerawork shows the four cardinal points of the artists’ vehicle – forward, back, left and right – on the four walls of the gallery space. But these images of work-a-day London are slightly slowed to create an unearthly vision, and soundtracked with samples from film noir and other sources that gives the city a new context: a surreal groundlessness that exists just a half step away from the reality at its source.
“Flying Down to Rio” is one in an ongoing series of collaborations between Petit, Matthews and Sinclair that also includes “Marine Court Rendezvous,” a multi-channel video installation about a pre-war building in Hastings, E. Sussex, and other projects about landscape and memory.
Sukhdev Sandhu: “Night Haunts”
Sukhdev Sandhu (b. 1970) is journalist, author and historian. He is the chief film critic of the Daily Telegraph, and has written on art, urbanism, and the poetics of migration for a wide range of publications, from London Review of Books and The Guardian to Gastronomica and avant-garde music bible The Wire. Sandhu’s books include London Calling: How Black and Asian Writers Imagined a City and I’ll Get My Coat, an artist’s book based on walks around traditionally Asian neighborhoods of England. He holds a doctorate from Oxford University and is an associate professor in New York University’s department of Social & Cultural Analysis.
“Night Haunts,” a collaboration with designer Ian Budden and sound artist Scanner, is a collection of Sandhu’s nonfiction accounts of London at night, told in a poetic style but from experienced, journalistic research. These pieces are given appropriate visual and audio settings by the collaborators and experienced by audience members in an interactive, digital, multimedia setting. Far beyond the mere “e-book,” “Night Haunts” imagines a new future for the nonfiction book as a total artwork.