‘Interchange Junctions’

HS Projects curated its first major group exhibition, ‘Interchange Junctions’, at 5 Howick Place. The exhibition examines contested cultural and political histories, which carry special resonance at Howick Place, named after Viscount Howick (later 2nd Earl Grey) one of the main architects of the Reform Act 1832, Catholic emancipation and the abolition of slavery in the British Empire.

‘Interchange Junctions’ follows on from Yinka Shonibare’s permanent commission ‘Wind Sculpture’, a site specific response to the history of the area and continues Shonibare’s focus on themes of colonialism, trade, and race, employing the artist’s signature use of batik Dutch wax fabric designs which have become synonymous with African identity.

The artists in the exhibition have been invited to create a dialogue with Yinka Shonibare’s ‘Wind Sculpture’, with the multi-cultural aspect of the exhibition paying homage to the enlightened actions carried out in the name of Howick. Through a range of media from film, animation, sculpture, collage, photography, drawing, painting and performance, the artists seek to explore cultural frameworks and issues of identity and how we negotiate these through the historical legacy of our collective past and our ever evolving multi-cultural global world.

‘Interchange Junctions’ offers the opportunity to experience a number of new works and site specific commissions as well as works that have not been shown in London before. Ideas of mobility, memory and transmission, migration, trade and colonial struggle are explored along with notions of social awareness and engagement. Misinterpretation and misplacement of accepted norms from one culture to another are part of a discourse on friction between cultures, identity and cultural belonging. Notions of power, success and failure run through the exhibition challenging long held assumptions.

Participating artists: Faisal Abdu’Allah, Larry Achiampong, Faig Ahmed, Alice Anderson, Shiraz Bayjoo, David Blandy, Phoebe Boswell, Jessie Brennan, Fiona Curran, Corinne Felgate, Rose Finn-Kelcey, Romuald Hazoumè, Rob Kesseler, Alex Lawler, Alan Magee, Jade Montserrat, Alida Rodrigues, Zineb Sedira, Shahzia Sikander, Yinka Shonibare MBE, Michelle Ussher, Andy Wicks and BA(Hons) Ceramic Design Central Saint Martins students (Lucy Anderson, Sarah Christie, Yung Cheuk Chung, Srabani Ghosh, Ziynet Hidiroglu, Ellis Hooson, Sun-a Kim, Friedrich Ly Thien Co, Jessica Martin, David McQuire, Megan Niell, Niamh Philips, Jose Salgrado De Lacerda, Harriet Sennett, Sandra Stallard, Akville Zukauskaite).

During the closing event of 19th June, there was a rap performance by David Blandy and Larry Achiampong who under the alias ‘Biters’, examined the possibility for truthful, authentic experience via the popular cultures that have influenced them. They investigated what identity might mean in the post-colonial and post-mass media age by crate-digging through history, recycling already-sampled beats and reciting stolen rhymes.

‘Interchange Junctions’ was funded by Invesco Real Estate (IRE) and Urban & Civic, the joint developer behind 5 Howick Place with Doughty Hanson & Co Real Estate.

‘Interchange Junctions’ was at 5 Howick Place, Victoria London, from 10 May – 21 June 2014.

‘Champagne Kid (Fallen) and other works’, Yinka Shonibare CBE (RA)

HS Projects presented an exhibition of some of Yinka Shonibare’s recent works, that continue the dialogue with his newly commissioned ‘Wind Sculpture’ for Howick Place, his focus on themes of colonialism, trade, and race, and his signature use of batik Dutch wax fabric designs.

‘Champagne Kid (Fallen)’, 2013 features a young boy caught in a moment of precarious exuberance and illicit celebration. On the floor with his legs in the air, the boy appears to have just toppled over his chair, while clutching a fizzing bottle of Cristal champagne. In the place of his head, one of Shonibare’s trademark globes illustrates the drastic losses in the stock and assets of Lehman Brothers, who declared bankruptcy in 2008. The sculpture calls to mind City whizz kids enjoying a moment of lavish excess, here literally knocked to the floor. With characteristic wit, this playful sculpture is a striking and yet subtle social commentary on our times. Combined with the carnivalesque pose of the animated figure, ‘Champagne Kid (Fallen)’ presents a powerful interpretation of our current state of affairs, as the innocent younger generation is set to inherit the excess of recent times.

In ‘B(w)anker (2)’, 2013 Shonibare presents a sharply suited rotund figure, with an exploding magnum of champagne. The cork explodes from the neck as fizz sprays out suggestively in a moment of raucous celebration. This portly gentleman presents himself as an upstanding member of society but is here caught off guard in a moment of debauched jubilation. The banker is tailored in a bespoke Victorian suit made in Shonibare’s signature wax batik fabric, the dress coat particularly highlighted with a bright explosive patterning. On closer inspection, the fobs on his gold chain include charms of golden nuggets and a ‘Veuve Clicquot’ bottle of champagne. The ‘B(w)anker (2)’ is a humorous reminder of a bygone era known for valuing class, money and indulgence: powerfully bringing to mind our own generation’s financial predicament. A commentary on the excess of the banking world, this work is a playful and provocative sculpture that is at once beautiful and bold.

The ‘Totem Paintings (1-5)’, 2011 combine African textiles with thick, impasto paint, bringing bright colours together with intense black. Tall and slender, their forms relate to the totems of the title. The nails that protrude from the edges of the canvas are a direct reference to African ‘minkisi’ figures made by the Kongo people of west-central Africa. These carved wooden objects were believed to have immense power, containing a spirit that was called upon to protect families or whole villages, to put right various wrongs such as crimes, and to exact vengeance and punishment. Hammering nails into the minkisi was intended to activate their spirits, with additional nails added every time the spirit was invoked. Minkisi were deemed sinister and threatening by colonial forces and were often seized – a symbolic gesture demonstrably removing power from the indigenous population. It was at this time that they became known as ‘fetish’ objects, emphasising the supposed strange savageness of the people who had made them. Many of the figures were brought back to England as curiosities. One of the ‘Totem Paintings’ has Dutch Wax fabric featuring UFOs, as though to emphasise further the perception of the minkisi and the cultures they hail from as alien. This is the first time this series has been shown together in London.

‘Champagne Kid (Fallen) and other works’ was at 5 Howick Place from April to September 2014.

‘Utopias’ by Yinka Shonibare CBE

HS Projects proudly presents ‘Utopias’, an exhibition of works by internationally acclaimed artist Yinka Shonibare CBE including ‘Adam and Eve’.

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