Mirror City – London Artists On Fiction & Reality

Running until January 2015 at the Hayward Gallery in London, a new exhibition explores the in-between space that divides reality and the virtual world. MIRRORCITY: London Artists on Fiction and Reality includes painting, sculpture and installations from 25 artists, curated by Stephanie Rosenthal.

Ursula Mayer‘s installation explores identity and the dissolving of ideas such as gender and genre. In the show, two films play and objects from the films or relating to them are displayed on plinths for visitors to examine.

Pil and Galia Kollectiv‘s work sets out to find “new uses for futures past”. For MIRRORCITY, they have focused on capitalism, converting a digital clip-art of a financial graph into a physical environment, surrounding a pie-chart stage on which London musicians will play throughout the course of the exhibition.

Mohammed Qasim Ashfaq’s paintings and sculptures explore the concept of black: made using graphite pencil lines, acrylic resin beads and lacquered steel, the three works at the show consider subjects including black holes and astral fragments. Of Falling Stars (pictured below), he says: “I think of them as though they exist on some other planet, or out there in the depths of space. Then suddenly they fall to earth… It’s like they fell through the ceiling and just magically appeared.”

Hannah Sawtell’s installation translates the digital experience of browsing images online into a physical context, with online imagery made real and displayed on lightbox-like structures. “In an age when image production and distribution is constantly accelerating, I want to salvage and cut images to create physical archives from the virtual,” she says.

Helen Marten’s mixed media assemblages explore the “index of city life” that’s provided by the contents of any urban area’s dumpster. The layered sculptures explore the tribal inclinations of humans, celebrating our collective “magpie habits”.

Since 2010, artists Karen Mirza and Brad Butler have focused on the language and gestures of urban protest in their practice. How To Protest Intelligently (shown below) reconfigures the guidelines of an original Arabic pamphlet of the same name, made to guide demostrators in how to dress and behave at protests.

Their two films Everything For Everyone And Nothing For Us (2014) and Hold Your Ground (2012) are shown side by side in the gallery; both explore how the body is used in protest, and the relationship of the body to the language of protest.

Dial Tone Operator (2014) by Aura Satz reflects on early audio technology, when telephone calls were put through by switchboard operators. Visitors pick up the headphones to tune into the audio, which mixes vintage recordings of telephone sounds with spoken word, song, and the buzzing hum of the dial tone.

Katrina Palmer’s Reality Flickers encases a secret within a walk-in storage locker. Visitors entering the locker will find an empty chair and a speaker, from which a voice narrates the story of Miss Flickers, accompanied by other voices that may or may not be real.

Tim Etchells‘ wall-mounted text work, City Changes, rewrites the story of a nameless city, adding extra words typed in different colours for each iteration. As the story develops, the city becomes increasingly energised, unstable and preposterous.

MIRRORCITY runs until 4 January 2015 at the Hayward Gallery in London. For more insight into speculative fictions and artists’ reimaginings of contemporary culture, Homebuildlife subscribers can read our report, United Micro Kingdoms: A Design Fiction.

– Sarah Housley

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