Various venues, London
By Tice Cin
This year’s Art Night – a melange of art in unusual London spaces – unfolded with a few hiccups. Events were barely signposted; there were hour-long queues at the Masonic Temple to see Lindsey Seer’s video installation Mental Metal²; and at Do Hoh Suh’s installation in Christ Church Spitalfields I was told by an Art Night attendant to avoid going to see the Chapman Brother’s defaced prints until later on to miss the queues.
Fortunately, there was a bright side to this all. There was an energy felt amongst the crowds of people that evoked a dream-like sense of wandering in us all. It didn’t matter that some events were full because there were more than 50 on the Associate Programme to choose from. No time was wasted. The social media pages for the night were active and accessible all evening and encouraged us all to ‘turn frustration into jubilation’ by pointing out key sites to explore, like Melanie Manchot’s collective dance performance that took over the streets of East London. At one point I emerged from an exhibition on Hanbury Street to see a parade of flamenco dancers whirling their way towards Exchange Square, Broadgate. Members of the public were encouraged to join in and dance under the stars to an array of styles such as Reggaeton and 80s Funk, capturing the inclusivity and flair that defined this annual event.
Entering a mysterious virtual reality experience staged by Khora Contemporary, I discovered what had been pitched as a ‘sacral peepshow’ by artist Christian Lemmerz. Through the VR medium I came face to face with a groaning crucified golden body and heard the sound of opening flesh in an assault on the senses. The next VR experiment I took part in was less arresting: Paul McCarthy’s VR attempt to use the leering faces and twitching bodies of Disney-like figures in C.S.S.C by taking the participant on a psychosexual trip of rape and humiliation seemed half-finished and distorted in a rather heavy-handed way. Down the road I stumbled across Dis/ Obedient Women, another VR installation which expressed the cultural difficulties surrounding multiculturalism and constructs around the female body. Thanks to its delicate approach, it balanced the need to both challenge certain stigmas and also to introduce marginalised figures through the platform of art.
My evening culminated with me bumping into a silent disco at 2am in Exchange Square on my way home. I didn’t quite make it to the survivors’ breakfast at Rich Mix for those who had made it from 6pm to 4am but there’s always next year.