Nocturnal Creatures: Whitechapel Gallery’s inaugural late-night contemporary arts festival

On Saturday 21 July, the heart of the East End is going to be transformed by performance, video, sculpture and sound. Cultural and historic venues within walking distance of the Whitechapel Gallery feature spectacular artworks and performance for one night only. Local galleries open their doors late into the night. In association with Sculpture in the City, artist tours and new audio compositions will celebrate the rich history of the local area. For its inaugural year, the Nocturnal Creatures festival coincides with Whitechapel Gallery’s triennial summer exhibition The London Open 2018, highlighting a number of the exhibiting artists.

Larry Achiampong Relic 1 2017 Single channel 4k video with stereo sound, 14:12 min Digital film still Courtesy of the artist
Larry Achiampong Relic 1 2017 Single channel 4k video with stereo sound, 14:12 min
Digital film still Courtesy of the artist

Iwona Blazwick, Whitechapel Gallery Director, said:

“Demand for accessible, night-time arts and culture in London is ever-increasing. Last year, we participated in the momentous Art Night, and we were truly inspired. So we’re hugely excited to be launching a new, free, late-night arts festival for the East End. A celebration of London’s creativity and resilient contemporary art scene, it will be a coming-together of practitioners, unusual spaces and audiences. Come and join us.”

All events are free to attend and accessible to all. The Whitechapel Gallery Refectory will host a Happy Hour between 9 and 11 pm, plus a special offer of a toastie and beer for £5 all night.

The full Nocturnal Creatures programme features:

An immersive audio-visual environment created by Tom Lock staged with our headline sponsor, Broadgate:

Multimedia artist Tom Lock (b.1981, UK) will present an expanded, live version of his monumental audio-visual work Within (2018). Developed in collaboration with choreographer Fernanda Munoz-Newsome, and musicians Manuela Barczewski and Rudi Schmidt, they create an immersive and expansive landscape featuring organic live visuals. The work is inspired by Octavia E. Butler’s 1987 novel Dawn, which describes the reactions of humans having to assimilate with an alien race that comes to earth. The performance is situated within Broadgate, London’s largest pedestrianised neighbourhood, a public arena for food, retail and culture.

Tom Lock Within 2017 (detail) Four screen HD video and sound installation, 07:00 min Commissioned by Focal Point Gallery, 2017 Courtesy of the artist and Focal Point Gallery, Southend-on-Sea
Tom Lock Within 2017 (detail) Four screen HD video and sound installation, 07:00 min Commissioned by Focal Point Gallery, 2017 Courtesy of the artist and Focal Point Gallery, Southend-on-Sea

An installation by Rachel Pimm hosted at the Grade II* listed Whitechapel Bell Foundry on Whitechapel Road

Rachel Pimm (b.1984, Zimbabwe) will present a new performance work inspired by the Grade II* listed Whitechapel Bell Foundry in a rare opportunity to see inside the new foundry building. The building operated as a bell foundry from the 1740s to 2017 and was the site for the creation of some of the world’s most famous bells, including Big Ben and the original Liberty Bell. Working with audio artist Graham Cunnington Test Dept) and former staff of the decommissioned foundry, the work features performers including the building’s current live-in guardians. The empty space is re-animated to map out the materials used in the casting of bells- copper, tin, clay, loam and water. Set to the industrial sounds of the machinery and in stages distinct to the 5 tones of each bell (the hum, the prime, the octave, the fifth and the minor third) the work tells the stories of the agricultural, ecological, military and political histories of the materials as they transform.

A multi-media experience accompanied by an intense, beat-driven soundtrack from Larry Achiampong with Shiraz Bayjoo at the White Chapel Building

Titled Forgotten Worlds, Larry Achiampong’s (b.1984, UK) work takes over the spacious atrium of the White Chapel Building. Forgotten Worlds is part of Relic Traveller (2017), Achiampong’s afro-futurist multi-site project comprising of performance, audio, moving image and prose. This new work will see Achiampong expanding this audio-visual journey with Shiraz Bayjoo using themes of lost testimony, fallen empire and displacement to deconstruct the architectures of colonialism.

Plantón Móvil, with Peruvian artist Lucia Monge, a ‘walking forest’ of plants and people moving together down Brick Lane

Lucia Monge organises walking forests all over the world. Nocturnal Creatures sees the international project take place along the East End’s most iconic street, Brick Lane. Shrubs, flowers and trees have the opportunity to ‘walk’ down the streets and to claim their place in our public space. Commencing at the Whitechapel Gallery at 6pm, all are invited to take part in this walking forest. Families are also invited to join the artist to make props for the walk at a Family Day event from 3pm.

Screenings of Forerunner, a film by artists Kai Althoff (b. 1966, Germany) and Yair Oelbaum (b. 1988, USA)

Spoken language is almost entirely subdued in Forerunner, which Oelbaum and Althoff started to film in 2013, and finished in 2016. Argumentative bombers having lost all attraction, light, several female protagonists with their unfathomable knowledge of what will be when Moshiach (the Messiah) comes, and a forebearance not to be confused to the slightest with tepidity, are the elements to rule this disposition. The film will be presented within the historic St. George’s Lutheran Church, which opened in 1763, and is the oldest surviving German church, with many of its original Georgian interiors intact.

At Whitechapel Gallery, hourly performances of Alexis Teplin’s mesmerising Arch (The Politics of Fragmentation)

This captivating work is performed by three actors in three acts within free major exhibition The London Open. Teplin (b.1976, USA), a painter whose practice expands beyond the limits of the frame, situates the action in front of her large-scale painting. Referencing Indian street theatre, 1960s Hollywood film and the traditions of Russian abstract theatre, the actors recite scripts composed of Teplin’s own writings, interwoven with fragments collected from an eclectic array of sources including news reports and the works of Doris Lessing.

A series of readings from Andrea Luka-Zimmerman marking the 50th anniversary of 1968 at Whitechapel Gallery

Six readers invited by Andrea Luka Zimmerman (b.1976, USA) choose and read aloud key texts from 1968 that speak directly to them and resonate in our present moment. Featuring housing campaigner Aysen Dennis, artist Evan Ifekoya, poet and film activist So Mayer, artist and filmmaker Liberty Anthonia Sadler, editor Daniella Shreir and artist and activist Andrea Luka Zimmerman. This shared reading echoes Luka Zimmerman’s film Civil Rights, included in The London Open 2018. The cine-poem takes as its starting point Martin Luther King’s 1967 speech, given on receipt of his honorary doctorate from the University of Newcastle. It explores how the core themes of poverty, racism and war continue to haunt our lives.

Music from NO UFOs all night in the Whitechapel Refectory

Justin Quirk of NO UFOs will soundtrack the bar with a journey through the digital sounds of the future: from space-age electro and futuristic synthpop to cosmic funk and dancehall. Quirk regularly DJs at London’s art galleries and at Spiritland. He has also curated exhibitions at Cob Gallery and KK Outlet. NO UFOs is an independent photographic imprint. Publications include NOUR, a photographic study of neon light in Saudi Arabia, and BATTLEJACKET NUMBER ONE, a year-long project photographing the homemade customised denim jackets found at heavy metal gigs in London.

Artist-led tours of artworks installed across the surrounding area for the 8th edition of Sculpture in the City including Amanda Lwin, Shaun C Badham and Jyll Bradley

Nocturnal Creatures takes place in association with Sculpture in the City, the City of London’s annual public art programme which situates 18 works from internationally renowned artists amongst City of London architectural landmarks close to the Whitechapel Gallery. Sculpture in the City will host expert tours with participating artists. This year, the project welcomes works by established international artists including Marina Abramovi?, Sarah Lucas, Tracey Emin and Sean Scully, and also gives the platform to younger emerging artists, presenting Shaun C Badham’s I’M STAYING, a neon work situated in Leadenhall Market, and Amanda Lwin’s new commission A Worldwide Web of Somewheres, a textile map of the City of London. Amanda Lwin, Shaun C Badham, Jyll Bradley and more of the participating artists will lead tours drawing on their experience of the area and consider, amongst other themes, current and social issues linked to the works on display and how they are inspired by the locality. Thomas J. Price will host an artist conversation in the Leadenhall Building and Juliana Cerqueira Leite will perform next to her sculpture in Mitre Square.

The premiere of audio compositions created in response to East End sites, Musicity x Sculpture in the City to include Sarathy Korwar, Midori Komachi, Bambooman and Angele David-Guillou

Launching to coincide with Nocturnal Creatures, Musicity x Sculpture in the City, supported by Brookfield Properties, will enliven local sites with sound. Attendees of the festival will experience for the first time newly commissioned audio tracks. Created in response to the area’s landmarks and historic venues, they link music and architecture and provide a new way of seeing and hearing the area. Covering different corners of the City, Musicity adds to the digital transformation of Sculpture in the City and will animate self-guided tours. Musicity sites range from Principal Place in the north to Aldgate Tower close the Whitechapel Gallery and will include new site-specific work by Sarathy Korwar, Midori Komachi, Bambooman and Angele David-Guillou. The music mix will range from modern classical and electronic to 80s inspired electro-pop and globally inspired soundscapes.

Plus galleries to open late into the night across the East End
Local galleries will open their doors to late night visitors. The programme includes Calvert 22 Foundation, Caravansérail, Espacio Gallery, Gallery 46, Peer, SCAN Project Room, Union Gallery and Yamamoto Keiko Rochaix.

An artist and writer-led walking tour of the local area
Elsewhere, artist Jaspar Joseph-Lester and writer Simon King will lead a semi-fictionalised walk from Walkative, which looks for elements of Los Angeles in the East End. The walk draws on their publication Parallel Urbanisms: London-Los Angeles. Walkative is a research project that explores how walking can trigger processes of making, thinking and researching.

Saturday 21 July 2018 Whitechapel Gallery and local locations, Free Entry
Sponsored by Broadgate In association with Sculpture in the City


Rachel Pimm Hardcore Deposition 2017 Billboard print 178×270cm Courtesy of the artist

About Mark Westall

Mark Westall is the Founder and Editor of FAD magazine, ' A curation of the world’s most interesting culture' [PLUS] Art of Conversation: A tri-annual 'no news paper' AofC - Issue 1 Autumn 2018