Here’s a run down of what’s on at the Ikon Gallery this year:
Janet Mendelsohn Varna Road 27 January – 3 April 2016
Ikon presents the largest exhibition to date of photographs by American academic and documentary filmmaker Janet Mendelsohn (b. 1943). During 1967-1969 Mendelsohn was a student at the University of Birmingham’s newly-established Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) where she began to explore the ways in which photography could be used in field research. This exhibition, organised in collaboration with the University of Birmingham, features original prints from Mendelsohn’s archive of over 3,000 photographs taken predominately in the Balsall Heath area of Birmingham. Focusing in particular on a sex worker called Kathleen, they capture the spirit of the time and provide insight into a community in an acute state of flux.
Dinh Q. Lê The Colony 27 January – 3 April 2016
This exhibition, organised in collaboration with Artangel, will be a video installation by acclaimed Vietnamese artist Dinh Q. Lê. Each of its three parts feature newly filmed footage, loosely based on picturesque 19th century depictions of a cluster of islands off the coast of Peru, rich in guano, a powerful fertilizer. Exploring the drama of absurdity, greed and human suffering, all for the brown gold of bird excrement, Lê’s narratives revisit important episodes in the islands’ brutal history.
Kelly Mark 108 Leyton Ave 27 January – 3 April 2016
Ikon’s Tower Room hosts 108 Leyton Ave , a new film by Canadian artist Kelly Mark. Her most personally revealing work to date, it is built from common expressions relating to “everything” and “nothing” and was developed over a period when Mark was living in the social isolation of a quasi-suburban limbo on Toronto’s eastern edge. “Everything” and “nothing” are constructed as opposite but asymmetrical roles performed by the artist for a split-screen projection, plumbing the contradictions of her own personality to reveal the bravura and insecurity of having no one to talk to but yourself.
Dan Flavin It is what it is and it ain’t nothing else 13 April – 26 June 2016
Ikon presents a major exhibition of fluorescent light works by Dan Flavin (1933-1996), one of the most important post-war American artists. Acquainted with other major figures such as Frank Stella and Barnett Newman, he was especially close to Donald Judd, with both artists sharing an interest in artworks that refer to nothing but their factual presence and an emphasis on industrial materials and intense colour. Ikon’s exhibition spaces will be bathed in radiant light, exemplifying Flavin’s interest in the possibility of “infinite specific expression in relation to specific space.”
Kan Xuan 6 July – 11 September 2016
This will be the first UK exhibition of work by renowned Chinese artist Kan Xuan. It will comprise a wide selection ranging from seminal single screen video pieces dating from the late 1990s through to her latest video installation. Refreshingly unpretentious and economical in style, with familiar subject matter, each exemplifies a profoundly philosophical approach to human experience, in attempts to “represent the state of our daily life, set against this crowded and noisy modern world.” In 2006 Ikon screened her seminal work A happy g irl (2002), in which she suddenly appears, dancing naked on a pedestal in a lush garden landscape.
Jesse Bruton 6 July – 11 September 2016
This will be the first solo exhibition in the UK by Lithuanian artist Žilvinas Kempinas. Comprising a number of installations it will be characteristically elemental, representing and embodying natural phenomena such as light and the circulation of air, with an emphasis on movement made by both visitors and kinetic works in the exhibition. Kempinas works with found objects and unprecious everyday materials and is most renowned for using unwound videotape. At Ikon, Kempinas’ White Noise (2007) will consist of countless lengths of videotape stretched horizontally wall-to-wall, while an ambitious new installation will involve covering the gallery’s entire ceiling, all walls, windows and architectural features, with thin plastic sheeting – both works exemplify the importance of architectural context for the artist.
Sara Barker 24 September – 27 November 2016
Ikon collaborates with The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, to present a major museum exhibition by Glasgow-based artist Sara Barker. Her artistic practice operates on the boundaries between sculpture, painting and drawing. Barker’s works delicately trace lines in space, incorporating rods of steel and aluminium, sheets of glass and painted sections which draw viewers into the artist’s curiously spatial imagination. The works inhabit space and also describe it, indicating an interest in how space may be imagined or reimagined. This exhibition includes new pieces made especially for Ikon.
Philippine Hamen For The Man Who Wouldn’t Get Up – Hommage to David Lodge 24 September – 27 November 2016
French design student Philippine Hamen presents a new hybrid piece of furniture in Ikon’s Tower Room. It is inspired by David Lodge’s short story, The Man Who Wouldn’ t Get Up (1998), about a man who is tired of life, tired of getting up every morning to live the same day indefinitely, until one day he simply refuses to rise. Hamen has created a lounge chair intended to be used as a desk, a “lounger desk”, tailor-made for Lodge’s character. With an appropriate ergonomic structure it enables the user to read or work lying face down and so disassociates the long-held verticality associated with the activity of work.
Roger Hiorns 7 December 2016 – 5 March 2017
This will be the most comprehensive survey to date of work by Birmingham-born artist Roger Hiorns. Through the transformation of materials and readymades, he focuses on various aspects of modern life – often through current affairs – closely analysing behaviour and materials, and what is assumed or taken for granted. Hiorns’ works involve growing vast amounts of copper sulphate crystals on objects ranging from car engines to domestic interiors, paintings made from brain matter, jet engines containing anti-depressant drugs and a boys’ choir ‘playing dead’. He explains, “You always have to think about materials and objects in terms of being malleable – you have to cut them off from what their real use is, to interfere with their world-ness, to re-use the power of objects left lying in the street. A statement forgotten or mis-interpreted but important at this time; culture’s future is reliant on the breakage of the present culture. Stress and ambiguity should be the well-used tools of sculpture.”
Ikon Off-Site – 2016-2017
- Artist in Residence at HMP Grendon 2014-2017 Ikon is working in partnership with HMP Grendon, Buckinghamshire, the Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust and artist Edmund Clark over a three-year programme to develop a public discourse about prisons, rehabilitation and criminality in light of growing evidence that the arts can offer transformational experiences in offenders’ lives. The project will culminate in a publication and exhibition at Ikon in 2017.
- Ikon at Plinth February – March 2016, 44 Great Russell Street, London Ikon, in partnership with Plinth, showcases new limited editions by artists Beatriz Milhazes, Richard Wilson, Cornelia Parker, Ding Yi and Richard Deacon at a central London pop-up shop.
- Roger Hiorns June 2016, Birmingham Cathedral This new site-specific work by British artist Roger Hiorns sees the choir of Birmingham Cathedral lie on the ground, scattered within the body of the building, to deliver the evensong and liturgy. The choir become individual elements and this new arrangement is a serious proposal towards the progress of the aesthetics of faith and worship.
- Black Country Voyages 2016-2017, across the Black Country April 2016-March 2017 marks the final year of Ikon’s three year project Black Country Voyages . An art programme for local people, it takes place on board a canal boat, and for 2016-17 is led by artist Mahtab Hussain.
- Roger Hiorns Untitled (Buried Aircraft) 2017, Icknield Port Loop, Birmingham Artist Roger Hiorns proposes to bury a Boeing 737 at Icknield Port Loop, a brownfield site in central Birmingham. With free entry, visitors will have access via a spiral staircase and be welcome to wander around the cabin, indistinguishable from the interior of planes used for short-haul flights except for the lack of aerial views. A major project, it will be one of the most ambitious artistic gestures made in this country in recent years.
Ikon Gallery, 1 Oozells Square, Brindleyplace, Birmingham B1 2HS 0121 248 0708 / www.ikon-gallery.org Open Tuesday-Sunday, 11am-5pm / free entry Ikon Gallery Limited trading as Ikon. Registered charity no. 528892