Abstract art becomes concrete. Speak, a joint exhibition of four artists transforms the space of Serpentine Sackler Gallery into a maze of multimedia concepts that are a direct call for change. Tania Bruguera, Douglas Gordon, Laure Prouvost and Cally Spooner join arms in a show that explores the disruptive ideas behind abstract art. With a John Latham retrospective A World View happening at the main Serpentine Gallery, the artistic director of both spaces, Hans Ulrich Obrist wanted to explore Latham’s work as an “open toolbox” for contemporary artists. And what a stimulating toolbox it is.
Cally Spooner's Warm Up
While A World View investigates the artist’s obsession with a time-based cosmology of events, Speak interprets it with the space in mind. However, each of the artists embodies a part of Latham’s heritage. The space melts into one, and feels like a carnival ride – you just don’t know what’s around the corner, yet it always makes sense. While Bruguera approaches the subject of disruption and change quite explicitly through her conversation video with Ulrich Obrist, speaking about the thought behind her 2018 Cuban presidency campaign. She plays a fine line between performance and documentary.
Douglas Gordon's Ping Pong
On the abstract spectrum of performance, Cally Spooner takes the process of a dancer’s warm-up into a timeless warp representing the uncertainty of our future. Similarly dystopian, Laure Prouvost (an ex-assistant of John Latham) creates her own universe – an experiential environment combining a sound narrative with flashing lights and ceramic sculpture, referencing the organic jigsaw of elements in Latham’s work.
And finally, Douglas Gordon is a Scottish-born artist whose use of Sackler Gallery’s space goes above and beyond just art. An interactive game space with his custom billiard and ping-pong tables intertwines with documentary footage of Ulrich Obrist, Latham and himself, representing what abstract art can be in a single space.
Laure Prouvost's end her Is story
While the title of the show takes its name from Latham’s 1962 experimental film, Braguera, Gordon, Prouvost and Spooner make it their own. Their way of speaking is much louder than just words.
Speak by Tania Bruguera, Douglas Gordon, Laure Prouvost, Cally Spooner is on at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, Kensington Gardens, W Carriage Dr, London W2 2AR, until 21 May. Find out more information at serpentinegalleries.org. Admission is free.