Andrea Luka Zimmerman, Film Stills from Estate, a Reverie (2015), single channel HD Video, Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London © the artist.
The Courtauld Institute of Art’s MA Curating the Art Museum students have announced their annual exhibition. Organised by nine emerging curators, Unquiet Moments: Capturing the Everyday represents both an extraordinary group of artworks and an effort to ensure that art can continue to be accessible in unprecedented circumstances.
Barbara Walker, Boundary I (2000), Oil on canvas, 182 x 121cm, Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London © the artist.
Originally conceived as a public exhibition in Somerset House’s galleries, the project has, for the first time, moved online, enabling it to potentially reach a far wider audience at a moment of immense collective digital engagement.
Somerset House is home to The Courtauld, which is currently undergoing a major transformation project to make its world-class artworks, research and teaching accessible to more people. The Courtauld Gallery will reopen to the public in 2021. Unquiet Moments: Capturing the Everyday was inspired by the chapter of Somerset House’s history as the home of the Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages. Such an archive records the banner headlines, the life-beginning, life-changing and life-ending moments that mark human experience. But what would an archive look like that instead recorded the fine print: the quiet, everyday moments of transformation and connection that shape human lives?
Artists have responded to and embraced modes of archiving throughout time, creating material records apart from and sometimes unknown to official histories. Unquiet Moments explores the enduring impulse to record, reflect and connect through everyday life: its small wonders and disappointments, its intimate joys and tragedies.
Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn, Saskia Sitting Up In A Bed, Holding a Child (1640), chalk on paper, 10.6 x 14.1 cm. The Courtauld Gallery. © The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London.
With major works from the Arts Council Collection and The Courtauld Gallery collection, this digital exhibition spans four hundred years of artistic practice, from the 17th century to the present day. Unquiet Moments represents the work of 24 artists. These works of art can be visual diaries of personal experience, portraits of families and communities, or traces of loss. They call on us to reflect upon the many ways in which we construct archives of our lives and memories.
The exhibition unfolds in three sections. Visual Diaries highlights examples of artists who have recorded and reflected upon personal experiences and moments. Rembrandt’s spontaneous sketch of Saskia Sitting Up In A Bed, Holding a Child (1640) captures a moment of familial intimacy. Linda Karshan’s three drawings 15.6.00 (2000), 8.6.00 (2000) and 5.8.00 (2000) record the movements of her body at particular moments in time.
Family Albums and Community Portraits brings together artists using their work to define their place within families or communities. In his photograph series Exiles (1987) Sunil Gupta sought to capture the marginalised queer community of Delhi, India. Berthe Morisot’s study Berthe Morisot drawing, with her daughter (1889) offers a glimpse of female artistic genealogies that both reside in and transcend the familial sphere.
Traces of Loss reflects artists’ efforts to preserve memories and objects that might otherwise be forgotten. Nigel Shafran’s photographic series Dad’s Office (1996-98) explores how domestic spaces hold traces of the people who once occupied them. Alek O.’s sculpture Edward Higgins White III (2011) was created from the unwoven threads of gloves found discarded on the streets of Helsinki, materials that evoke the unknown histories of their previous owners.
Andrea Luka Zimmerman’s film Estate: a Reverie (2015) was filmed over seven years in close collaboration with residents of the Haggerston housing estate in London prior to its demolition. This deeply moving community portrait actively seeks to evade the statistical lens through which the estate’s residents were so often viewed, in favour of a ‘poetics of everyday life’. It is a diary kept and an archive made, an elegy of a place now gone and a portrait of the community that once occupied it. This film will be screened for two weeks on our website during the run of our exhibition.
Alek O., Edward Higgins White III (2011), Embroidery, 43 x 22.5 x 3.5cm, Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London © the artist. Gift of the artist 2014.
Curators: Sophie Ridsdale-Smith, Julie Bléas, Anna Duch Giménez, Matilda McEvedy, Zaena Sheehan, Elizabeth Keto, Annie Birchenough, Anastasia Pineschi and Sophie Anne Paoli.
Zarina Bhimji, Vanley Burke, Alejandra Carles-Tolra, Paul Cezanne, Mohini Chandra, Michael Craig-Martin, Fiona Crisp, Sunil Gupta, Rembrandt, Harmensz van Rijn, Susan Hiller, Kabir Hussain, Mikhail Karikis, Linda Karshan. Oskar Kokoschka, Richard Long, Berthe Morisot, Alek O., Karl Ohiri, Kathy Prendergast, Jonathan Richardson the Elder, Veronica Ryan, Nigel Shafran, Barbara Walker, Andrea Luka Zimmerman.
More info: unquietmoments.courtauld.ac.uk/ From 18th June.
MA Curating the Art Museum
Now in its thirteenth year, MA Curating the Art Museum is an intensive and highly competitive twelve-month programme, accepting up to 12 students each year, from across the UK and internationally. The programme aims to develop students’ academic skills and knowledge to equip them for curatorial careers in the museums and galleries sector. It involves a broad range of learning experiences and the programme enjoys close and active links with museums and galleries across London and the UK. Martin Caiger-Smith, Head of Programme, says: ‘Curating is a broad, complex and competitive field, and the year-long programme is an intensive learning experience. This high-profile public exhibition is the culmination of the year, and a great opportunity to learn by doing. It is reassuring, as ever, to see students rising to the occasion and to the challenge laid down by great works of art.’ The exhibition was to be staged in Somerset House’s Embankment Galleries; however with the Covid-19 pandemic, this opportunity was closed; students are currently dispersed across the UK, Europe and the US, and the decision was taken – in common with museums, galleries and other organisations worldwide- to move the project online.
Exhibition Launch Party, 18th June, 6pm, live streamed from Somerset House YouTube channel:
Artists Talk, Sunil Gupta, 24th June, 5:30 pm, live stream from Somerset House and Courtauld Research Forum: Somerset House YouTube channel:
In 1986, Sunil Gupta was commissioned by the Photographer’s Gallery to document the lives of gay men in Delhi. The resulting photographs, which feature a group of anonymous volunteers, provide visual evidence of private moments of love and friendship that typically went undocumented. Exiles has been described by Gupta as ‘staged documentary’, originating from an activist imperative to create images of a community he felt ‘just didn’t seem to exist’ within cultural production. When Gupta returned to India in 2007, he found the younger generation more willing to identify themselves. In Mr Malhotra’s Party, named individuals were photographed in spaces they live and work in, inscribing their presence as within the city’s social scene and family structures.
This artist’s talk will place these two series in dialogue, exploring the continuities and differences between both bodies of work. Gupta and Anderson will discuss the activist impulse behind both series, Gupta’s photographic process, and the reception of these images in relation to mainstream coverage of queer communities in India.
Artists in Conversation, Karl Ohiri and Mohini Chandra, 29th June, 5:30 pm, live stream from Somerset House and Courtauld Research Forum: Somerset House YouTube channel:
Chandra and Ohiri are artists whose work examines similar questions of cultural belonging, heritage, and migration. Unquiet Moments: Capturing the Everyday includes two important works by these artists, Chandra’s Album Pacifica and Ohiri’s How to Mend a Broken Heart, which are linked by their re-contextualisation of personal artefacts to explore wider complexities surrounding family and communal histories.
This conversation will explore the social function of photography in articulating individual and collective histories, as well as both artists’ appreciation for the physicality of this medium in the pre-digital era. The conversation will be moderated by a member of the MA Curating course.
Double Bill Film Screening, Andrea Luka Zimmerman’s Estate, A Reverie and Mihkail Karikis’ Children of Unquiet, screenings followed a conversation between artists,14 July, 6pm, live stream from Somerset House: Artists and friends Andrea Luka Zimmerman and Mihkail Karikas will come together for a special double will screening of their films Estate, A Reverie and Chrilden of Unquiet.
Filmed over 7 years, Zimmerman’s Estate, A Reverie offers an intimate insight into the community of the Haggerston public housing estate in London in the years prior to its demolition. Made in close collaboration with the estate’s residents, the film seeks to avoid the statistical lens through which housing estates are so often viewed. Zimmerman’s film emphaisises the ‘spirited existence’ of this community, whilst quietly drawing attention to the underlying neglect inflicted by wider social and political forces that govern their existence.
Also the result of close collaboration, in Mihkail Karikis’ Children of Unquiet a group of local children take over an abandoned geothermal power plant. Set within an area of Tuscany known as the Devil’s Valley, this failed modernist project stands as a metaphor for the economic and political disempowerment inflicted upon a younger generation by the vicissitudes of capitalist logic. Yet through their aural and physical interventions in the landscape, the children draw upon this sense of disquiet to challenge these prevailing narratives, evoking an alternative, more hopeful vision for the future.
This double-bill screening will be followed by a conversation between the artists, who will explore how these films relate to themes raised by the exhibition Unquiet Moments: Capturing the Everyday.
Film Screening, BRIDGIT BY Charlotte Prodger, 15th July (time TBC), live stream from Somerset House: A special screening of Charlotte Prodger’s Turner Prize-winning film BRIDGIT to coincide with the exhibition Unquiet Moments: Capturing the Everyday.
BRIDGIT explores how identity is constantly shifting in response to the people we meet, spaces we occupy and memories we hold. Prodger’s film was created using a compilation of three- to four-minute clips recorded on her iPhone, overlaid with spoken word and text. Shots of the artist’s home, views from the train and of the Aberdeenshire countryside are accompanied by insights into the artist’s lived experience as a queer woman. BRIDGIT employs the intimate, personal histories of Prodger and her circle as a means to address broader questions around formation of the self. The title refers to the Neolithic goddess Bridgit, whose identity has shape-shifted across time and geographical boundaries.
More info: unquietmoments.courtauld.ac.uk/ From 18th June.