15th of July 2016 – £12.50
Baaaaam baaaaam baaaaaahhm. Dahn dahn.
Viddy well my droogs. Welcome to Somerset House, built on a Native American gravesite. It isn’t, but Stanley Kubrick’s here. Daydreaming with Kubrick is the old building’s exhibition of art inspired by the great man’s movies. “Art inspired by” is the gallery equivalent of a movie being “inspired by true events” and to be based on such colossal works as the Kubrick canon rings certain alarm bells but you never know, it could surpass the movies themselves.
As there was so much, I’ll give a brief review of every room, stopping for longer if something impressed or disgusted me.
Mat Collishaw – It’s an ape inside space helmet as a nod to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Although it’s always fun to see a chimp monkeying around, the movie made this point but galactically better.
Stuart Haygarth – A stack of electric heaters with fire effects inside the overlook hotel. Actually pretty interesting as the artist is clearly doing something different with the movie’s themes whilst remaining resolutely “on message” but I tell you what, it was sweltering.
Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard – Excellent. Just mind blowing. Probably closest to Dr. Strangelove in inspiration, but I’m not sure. Untuned radios emitting white noise whilst the theme from The Shining (with an added vocal track) faintly pipes in. Clocks flashing, machines bleeping. Even though it was the third display, I traipsed back to it once I’d done to experience it again. It smelt like my grandfather’s shed. A brutal assault on the senses. Just like Kubrick. For me, this was the highlight.
Marc Quinn – Two portraits of civil disobedience. I’m guessing A Clockwork Orange homage. The splurges of paint over images of wanton destruction felt like artistic tautology. Again, I’d recommend watching the movie.
Dexter Navy/James Lavelle & John Isaacs featuring Azzi Glasser – More obviously thematic than the previous. The loss of innocence. Two teddy bears were dressed like Alex DeLarge and Lolita and stood on cereal boxes with videos of kids with waves coming out of their heads and rorschach images. A better insight into the loss of innocence are the films A Clockwork Orange and Lolita.
Toby Dye – A four walled video projection more in keeping with Fahrenheit 451, each with regard to Barry Lyndon, The Shining, A Clockwork Orange and (I think) Lolita. It featured Joanna Lumley, which was nice to see. I loved everything about it except for the horribly incongruous orchestral indie soundtrack.
Mat Chivers/Nathan Coley/Rachel Howard/Michael Nyman/Seamus Farrell/Gavin Turk – “Let your little brother have a turn, Joe”. GCSE standard filler. If you’re short on time, skip this bit.
Doug Aitken – A glowing pay phone in a mirrored room that I understood and appreciated. Made a point simply and clearly.
Julian Rosefeldt – A film with Cate Blanchett. Not as good as Blue Jasmine, better than Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull . It would’ve taken a heart of stone not to find it boring.
Jonas Burget – An oil painting about, yep, the loss of innocence “which Kubrick explored frequently in his films”. Is that it? That’s the only link you can muster? Whistler’s Mother has more to do with Kubrick than that.
Samantha Morton & Douglas Hart – A girl in a cinema watching the stargate sequence from 2001. Total total shit.
Jane & Louise Wilson – Another fey film depicting a woman (Johanna ter Steege) narrating the preproduction processes of a Kubrick film that never got off the ground. Total total boring.
Koen Vanmechelen – Just a video of a chicken’s eye, but the most chilling video of a chicken’s eye I’ve ever seen. Superimposed with video of human eye. It was at the end of a corridor carpeted with that design from The Shining. A very effective and disturbing piece.
Norbet Shoerner – “closed for manual reset”. All I understand from this is how miffed I feel.
The Maze – A microcosm of the entire exhibition that had lots of female nudity. It was part great, part daft, part bollocks, part so pretentious it made Yoko Ono look like the lotto lout. I particularly liked a sculpture of a python coiled inside a stone “V”. Simple, effective, a nod to A Clockwork Orange. Well done.
Doug Foster/Nancy Touts – A camera with concertina lens case breathing like in 2001 (that was ripped off wholesale in Star Wars). I loved it. Beside, upon a huge widescreen, was projected a psychedelic movie that was the unwanted child of the stargate sequence from 2001 and the screensaver from Windows 95. That said, being sat before it was a mesmeric experience.
Haroon Mirza & Anish Kapoor – It’s amazing what can be created with a strobe light and a curved mirror. Bad art.
Paul Fryer – A waxwork of Stanley Kubrick like Jack Torrence at the end of The Shining. Oh… spoiler alert. Too late.
Thomas Bagalter – A video of a man on fire walking. I didn’t get it. Was I meant to? Because I didn’t.
Chris Levine – A flickering vertical strip light. Next!
Sarah Lucas – A big stone dildo on top of a crushed car with dirty rock music playing. Of course I liked it.
Peter Kennard – What looked like photocopied images of war, Dr. Strangelove, protest, and a nuclear holocaust. So what?
Joseph Kosuth – Fairy lights and script notes painted on the walls of a spiral staircase. Maybe the least affective of the lot and a damp squib to end on.
It was always going to be a mixed bag and it is. Is it worth the entrance fee? Probably not, but I’d recommend some of it. I didn’t like all the art, but I respect what Somerset House were trying.
There was very little on Full Metal Jacket and Barry Lyndon, nothing on Paths of Glory, and nothing on Eyes Wide Shut (so it’s not all bad).
Some of the exhibition felt like fan art, some was so oblique I didn’t know how it was inspired by Kubrick at all, and only sometimes was the sweet spot between hit. If you’re a fan like myself, you might get a kick out of it, just don’t expect your understanding of the movies to be changed. It certainly did make me want to watch the films again, but how does wanting to experience another art form reflect on an exhibition?