Have you ever entered an exhibition that led you to wonder where the art stopped and where the rest of the world starts? Artangel specialises in producing exactly that type of experiential, immersive, confusing, sometimes even life-changing or rage inducing exhibitions. Their projects, although usually of large scale and of undeniable quality are often hidden in obscure corners of the city and publicised via word of mouth. They are also sometimes hidden in plain sight, such as the current Audio Obscura, a sound piece by Lavinia Greenlaw that is meant to be experienced through headphones while wandering along the platforms of St-Pancras International train station.
Their best projects transcend disciplines, genres and health&safety tedium that all galleries appear to adhere to, as if the artists are told to devise their dream project outside of all constraints. After Gregor Schneider’s terrifying mirror houses in east London (Die Familie Schneider, 2004), Kutlug Ataman’s sorting station/shanty town (Kuba, 2005) and Roger Hiorns’ transformation of a council flat into a jewel gleaming with blue crystals (Seizure, 2010), Artangel has entrusted Ryan Gander with his very own ticket.
This is potentially a perfect fit as Gander, much like Artangel, has never been one to be easily defined by the categories of art. In the past, his work has included lectures, imagined video games, films of apparently banal situations and installations of found objects. If it sounds scattered and hard to pin down it’s because it is, voluntarily so. Just when you think you have Ryan Gander figured out, he will come up with something that will be a complete departure from his previous work yet that is still very consistent with his interest in initiating narrative and his refusal to resolve any questions or loose threads these stories might generate.
This leaves us with quite a conundrum: How to review Locked Room Scenario without thwarting your own experience of it? Only a few things can be said. Although it is presented by the London organisation as “a group show in Hoxton”, it’s also much more… and much less. Just go with an open mind and let your imagination run free, don’t be shy to act exactly the opposite way you would in any other gallery …. push doors open, talk to strangers, pick things up the floor, walk past the velvet ropes and get lost. If nothing else, it will be an experience that will make you think twice about what you expect to see when you go to an exhibition. You are guaranteed to leave with a lot of questions and very few answers. Intrigued yet?
(Ryan Gander’s Locked Room Scenario is @ London’s Londonnewcastle Depot until October 23rd. All photos by Julian Abrams)