Multi-disciplinary artists and collaborators Samuel Levack & Jennifer Lewandowski will be launching a moving image and architectural installation in Bethnal Green, running November 25 to 30, upstairs in their storefront gallery French Riviera. As a shared space that also doubles as a studio and once even tripled as the artists’ residence, it’s an all-too-familiar emblem of the resourcefulness required to keep afloat in a city as expensive as London. In responding to the tightening noose of property development and corporate crawl, Alternative Equinox pays tribute to the artist’s former home while exploring their contemporary socio-political context through personal experience as artists living in the global city.
To mark the occassion, Levack & Lewandowski produced a taster mix of tracks from an as-yet-untitled and unfinished EP due for release somewhere in the near future through their musical project Das Hund & The Pilgrim Shells
. The three songs lumber along guitar, keys and effects pedals to produce a drum-machine driven ambience that follows Levack’s talk-sung lyrics over a trundling ‘Japanese Poem’, while Lewandowski joins in with an echo of a harmony in ‘Normal Love, Pilgrim’ Remix. In closer ‘London, Blissed Out’, a persistent sense of woozy transience and motion sickness trails the Country Western strum of the New Frontier as Levack’s offtune moan reveals, “she said nothing since London”.
It’s telling that the literary inspiration for the exhibition and EP, Alternative London by late-activist Nicholas Saunders, should appear on the book depositories of retailers like Waterstones and Amazon.com, 40 years since it was first self-published. Because as squats, spirituality and even the term ‘alternative’ are overrun by a culture of commodity where no-one and nothing is safe from the reach of capital interests, Levack & Lewandowski’s site-specific immersive installation explores the point where Paradise ends and the nightmare begins. An equinox is the two times of the year where day and night is of equal duration across both hemispheres. This Alternative Equinox, celebrated about a month after the last one’s September 22 date, reveals the New Imbalance of an increasingly stratified economic context.
The selection of video, painting, sculpture, textiles and scents recognises art’s fight against, and complicity in generating this very context by presenting “dystopian and utopian visions as poetic cityscapes” filmed during the actual spring and autumn equinoxes and evoking “a nostalgic vision of utopian living”. But as nostalgia implies a valorised perception of an always imperfect past, the implication isn’t so much that inequality is necessarily a new occurence but one that the artist is beginning to notice.
Featuring a specially commissioned text by writer and curator Francesca Gavin, as well as a 2015 performance program to begin in January, co-curated with Attilia Fattori Franchini, Alternative Equinox responds to a time where a turn away from the mainstream is a fashion statement driven by a cultural producer that’s produced itself out of a livelihood. **
Jennifer Lewandowski and Samuel Levack’s Alternative Equinox installation is on at London’s French Riviera, running from November 25 to 30, 2014.
Header image: Samuel Levack and Jennifer Lewandowski, ‘Alternative Equinox’ (2014). Digital video still. Courtesy the artists.
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