As The World Turns: New Art From London
Anna Schwartz Gallery, Carriageworks, Sydney, 25 June – 20 August 2011

Charles Avery, Shezad Dawood, Alex Hoda, Ian Mon­roe, Heather & Ivan Mori­son, Katie Pater­son, Jamie Shovlin

Fea­tur­ing the work of eight British artists, ​As The World Turns: New Art From Lon­don explores some of the pre­vail­ing strands of artis­tic prac­tice com­ing out of the cap­i­tal today; in the process pic­tur­ing a dynam­ic, vibrant and tru­ly inter­na­tion­al art scene. The artists includ­ed – all of whom are in their thir­ties and at the start of inter­na­tion­al careers – work across a vari­ety of media, their het­ero­gene­ity of style and approach the result of diverse backgrounds. Despite emerg­ing from dis­parate prac­tices, the com­mon thread among the works fea­tured here is that they are explorato­ry, open-end­ed or inter­rog­a­tive in intent. Con­sid­ered togeth­er, they con­struct new nar­ra­tives or mytholo­gies, con­tem­plate the far­thest reach­es of the imag­i­na­tion or the cos­mos, reveal new forms of expres­sion and spec­u­late on pos­si­ble futures.

Among the artis­tic strate­gies and the­mat­ic con­cerns engag­ing this cur­rent gen­er­a­tion of British artists is a return to the research-led approach of ear­li­er con­cep­tu­al prac­tices, but applied to a wide range of con­tem­po­rary sub­jects, from astro­physics to game the­o­ry, inter­na­tion­al pol­i­tics to counter-cul­tures, and pop music to ancient mythol­o­gy and folk­lore. Some of these themes are intro­duced via spec­u­la­tive pro­pos­als, fic­tion­al nar­ra­tives or oth­er imag­i­na­tive con­ceits; while oth­ers are dealt with through the orga­ni­za­tion and clas­si­fi­ca­tion of nat­ur­al or social phe­nom­e­na. The slip­page of mean­ing or the con­fla­tion of the famil­iar with the uncan­ny or eso­teric are recur­ring ideas, often sub­ject­ed to a play­ful or iron­ic treatment. Some of the artists fea­tured in this exhi­bi­tion offer new per­spec­tives on the old­er debates of mod­ernism or post­mod­ernism, while at the same time ground­ing their work in issues of con­tem­po­rary social rel­e­vance. The con­stant ref­er­enc­ing and chal­leng­ing of oth­er move­ments, dis­ci­plines and ide­olo­gies define an art both of intel­lec­tu­al enquiry and of active socio-polit­i­cal engage­ment, yet one which also remains engaged with for­mal exper­i­men­ta­tion and innovation.

This new wave of young artists can­not in any real sense be con­sid­ered as a sin­gu­lar school or move­ment. In the place of the sen­sa­tion­al­ism and shock tac­tics that char­ac­ter­ized the art of the pre­ced­ing Young British Artist (yBa) gen­er­a­tion is an atti­tude alto­geth­er more seri­ous, more out­ward-look­ing, more social­ly and polit­i­cal­ly aware, and an artis­tic out­put which is redo­lent with ambi­gu­i­ty and open to inter­pre­tive pos­si­bil­i­ty. Rather than refor­mu­lat­ing fixed and rigid notions of British nation­al iden­ti­ty, these artists are instead engaged with con­fronting the con­flict­ed real­i­ties of mul­ti­cul­tur­al Britain in the twen­ty-first century. Lon­don today is char­ac­terised by its cul­tur­al inter­na­tion­al­ism, its artists plugged in to a world­wide net­work of artis­tic prac­tice, exhi­bi­tion and dis­tri­b­u­tion. In this respect, the artists in ​‘As The World Turns’ can be viewed as expo­nents of ​‘alter­mod­ernism’, a term coined by Nicholas Bour­ri­aud to char­ac­terise a moder­ni­ty for the new mil­len­ni­um, one based on the trans­la­tion of dif­fer­ent cul­tur­al val­ues for the pur­pos­es of a world­wide net­work of ideas and com­mu­ni­ties. Tak­en from a work by Katie Pater­son, the title of this exhi­bi­tion serves to sug­gest this glob­al cir­cu­la­tion of ideas, and the com­plex cul­tur­al tra­jec­to­ry these works have tak­en in their jour­ney from Lon­don to Sydney. Nina Miall, 2011