A new installation by artist Chila Kumari Singh Burman masks the stately columns and ornate flourishes of Tate Britain’s facade, enveloping the London museum in a blanket of LED lights. In “Remembering a Brave New World,” technicolor symbols, pop culture references, and religious iconography transform the neoclassical structure into an illuminated space for celebration. The public artwork was revealed on December 14 to coincide with the start of Diwali, the five-day Indian festival of lights, and casts a kaleidoscopic glow on the surrounding area.
The eclectic collection draws on Punjabi Liverpudlian artist’s own life and family history, which manifests in pieces like the multi-colored ice cream truck. After moving to England, her father purchased one of the vehicles, an experience that imprinted her childhood.
Other elements focus on the United Kingdom’s history of imperialism: the Britannia figure at the building’s apex, for example, is camouflaged with Kali, the Hindu goddess of liberation and power, while the lower region features Rani of Jhansi, the warrior and leader of the Indian resistance against the British in 1857. “It’s important to critique buildings like this because they’re very Eurocentric,” Burman said in an interview with Dezeen. “So, I just thought: why not do something that captures what we’re all going through right now? I felt like it needed a blast of joy and light. And Diwali is about good over evil, about hope, unity and the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Glowing Hindu deities sprawl across the windows and arches, as well, including Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and purity, and Ganesh, the god of prosperity. The religious figures juxtapose the more playful elements, like a life-sized tiger, peacock, and pair of lips.
“Remembering a Brave New World” is the fourth annual winter commission by Tate Britain. The public artwork will be on display through the end of January, even while the inner halls of the museum are closed to visitors due to the ongoing pandemic. Follow Burman’s projects that explore questions of power and identity on Instagram.
Update: A previous iteration of this article incorrectly identified the lights as neon, not LED.
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Plush Seats and Ornate Balconies Sit Empty in Joanna Vestey's Unobstructed Photographs of London Theaters
In Joanna Vestey’s Custodians for COVID series, one worker poses idly amid an otherwise unobstructed shot of a historic venue. The Oxford-based photographer has been capturing the empty seats and balconies of London theaters, which have been closed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. For the timely series, Vestey visited 20 venues, including Royal Albert Hall, The Globe, and National Theatre, to photograph the breadth of the vacant architecture.
Prints of the bare spaces are available on Vestey’s site, with proceeds supporting each company. She also shares many of her architectural projects on Instagram.
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Bristol-based photographer Sam Rowley is dedicated to capturing fleeting moments. After lying down on the platform near London’s Underground and waiting for two mice to appear, Rowley was able to photograph the upright pair as they engaged in a brawl over a morsel of dropped food in a shot titled “Station Squabble.” “He only saw them fight over scraps of food dropped by passengers a few times, possibly because it is so abundant,” said a statement from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, in which Rowley was awarded the 2019 Lumix People’s Choice Award. “This fight lasted a split second, before one grabbed a crumb and they went their separate ways.” To see what transient moments of animal life the photographer captures next, follow him on Instagram. (via Peta Pixel)
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Munich-based photographer Bernhard Lang (previously) recently shared aerial views of famous squares and landmarks throughout London, England. By presenting the metropolis from the sky, Lang offers a more dynamic look at the capital city’s unique geometric patterns and iconic architecture.
Lang produced the Aerial Views: London series from inside a helicopter during a trip to the United Kingdom in July 2019. Locations including Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus, and Trafalgar Square were chosen because they are “stored in our visual memory,” Lang tells Colossal. For the photographer, the unusual perspective of familiar sites reveals the atmosphere and charisma of the city in ways that can’t be seen from the ground. The flyover views of the city make it appear more like a detailed model of itself, complete with cars, double-deckers, boats, and tiny people frozen in places like figurines.
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Tony the Frosted Flakes tiger sacrificed as a living room rug, wooden dolls handing their babies off to smugglers in freight truck trailers, and welcome mats stitched from life jackets: rather than offering an aspirational lifestyle, one South London storefront window depicts a capitalist dystopia. Created by Banksy and appearing overnight, Gross Domestic Product is the latest installation to critique global society’s major issues of forced human migration, animal exploitation, and the surveillance state.
The temporary installation, which will be on view for two weeks in the Croydon neighborhood, incorporates multiple window displays for a shop that is not in fact open to passersby. However, some of the items on display are available for purchase in GDP’s associated online store including the welcome mats, which Banksy hired refugees in Greek detainment camps to stitch; all proceeds go back to the refugees. Revenue from sales of the doll sets will also support the purchase of a replacement boat for activist Pia Klemp, whose boat was confiscated by the Italian government. The product line is rounded out with such oddities as disco balls made from riot gear helmets, handbags made of bricks, and signed—and partially used—£10 spray paint cans.
Tying this latest project to his larger body of work, Banksy incorporated familiar motifs. The fireplace and stenciled jacquard wallpaper from his Walled Off Hotel, the stab-proof Union Jack vest he created for Stormzy to wear at the Glastonbury Festival, and the Basquiat-inspired ferris wheel that appeared outside the Barbican all appear in GDP.
In a statement about the project, Banksy explains that the impetus behind Gross Domestic Product is a legal battle between the artist and a greeting card company that is contesting the trademark Banksy holds to his art. Lawyer Mark Stephens, who is advising the artist, explains, “Banksy is in a difficult position because he doesn’t produce his own range of shoddy merchandise and the law is quite clear—if the trademark holder is not using the mark then it can be transferred to someone who will.”
Despite this project’s specific goal of selling work in order to allow Banksy to demonstrate the active use of his trademark, the artist clarifies, “I still encourage anyone to copy, borrow, steal and amend my art for amusement, academic research or activism. I just don’t want them to get sole custody of my name.”
Per usual, Banksy shares updates on Instagram, where he claims recent projects, including GDP, which he just announced an hour ago as of press time.
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Upcycled Scaffolding Planks Form Functional Ribbons of Steel and Wood in London's Broadgate Neighborhood
As part of the 2019 London Design Festival, Paul Cocksedge’s ‘Please Be Seated’ has taken over Finsbury Avenue Square in the city’s Broadgate neighborhood. The undulating sculpture is comprised of concentric wooden circles that ribbon up and down to create functional spaces to socialize, rest, and walk through. Cocksedge collaborated with White & White to fabricate the massive steel and upcycled scaffolding wood installation, which the designer described as “walk[ing] the line between a craft object and a design solution. It occupies the square without blocking it.”
With Joana Pinho, Cocksedge co-founded his namesake Studio in 2004. In a statement on their website, the Studio shares their design philosophy: “The key feature of the Studio’s work, in everything from product design to architectural projects, is a focus on simplicity and imagination in order to create unique people-centered designs.” Explore more of the Cocksedge Studio portfolio on their website, and if you enjoy this piece, also check out Yong Ju Lee’s Root Bench, which was installed in South Korea. (via designboom)
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