UCL Slade’s BA/BFA Degree Show Inspires Across All Genres

It’s a distinct possibility that the quad at UCL was one of the most happening spots in London last Friday night. With Slade School of Fine Art inaugurating their BA/BFA degree shows, the place was hopping with a bar, barbecue and masses of cool looking people. But as much as I enjoyed my al fresco chicken wrap and eavesdropping on uni students — of course, secretly wishing I was still one of them — it’s no surprise that what I discovered inside Slade was the real treat of the evening.

Scrolling through my iPhone photos taken on the night, I still find myself excited by the work, thrilled at the quantity of talent seeping from within those studios and soon to be let out into the world. (Did I mention I cant wait?)

From creepy, sometimes even terrifying video work, to sumptuous paintings, media installations, a truly serene sculpture by Nancy Huang I really wish I could live in, and thought-provoking performance pieces (a particular favourite, by Juntae TJ Hwang, features students clad in army attire performing sexy dance moves amongst the columns of the main building), this show has a little bit of everything. And each little bit is great in its’ own way, which in turn makes for an exhilarating exhibition.

Nancy Huang, 2015
Nancy Huang, 2015

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ArtAttack’s ‘Best of Biennale’: India & Pakistan Historically Join Forces for ‘My East is Your West’

When art aficionado, businesswoman, and philanthropist Feroze Gujral – who is of Indian, Arab, and British origins – visited the Venice Biennale in 2013, she noticed there was neither an Indian nor a Pakistani pavilion. With great experience sustaining large-scale arts projects via the Gujral Art Foundation, she decided to change that, and selected internationally recognised artists, Shilpa Gupta (India) and Rashid Rana (Pakistan), to collaborate on ‘My East is Your West.’ The project is an official Collateral Event of the 56th Venice Biennale, and unites at the Biennale for the first time the historically conflicting nations of India and Pakistan. Rana and Gupta have previously collaborated on the cross-border project ‘Aar Paar’, in which artists from Mumbai and Karachi each created public works in the other’s territories.

On view in Venice, Shilpa Gupta’s work, characteristically both poetic and direct in its delivery, reflects on her own experience visiting the borders of Mumbai, Bangladesh and Kashmir, which are partly controlled by India and partly by Pakistan. As a central focus of the work, she stages a performance wherein an actor diligently works away at a crafts table in a dramatically lit red room. Without acknowledging the presence of visitors, the actor traces a shape on carbon paper that rests on a pile of cloth. The cloth itself is significant, measuring the width of a sari and one-thousandth the length of the 3,400km security barrier, the longest in the world, that India is currently building along its’ perimeter with neighbouring Bangladesh. Although open-ended, the piece seemingly alludes to the vast and somewhat arbitrary effort of retaining distance through the gesture of drawing borders.

'My East is Your West,' 2015
‘My East is Your West,’ 2015

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ArtAttack’s ‘Best of Biennale’: Wu Tien-Chang’s Taiwan Pavilion

As you may have gathered from the multitude of photos circulating on our social media accounts, ArtAttack has been at the 56th Venice Art Biennale enjoying the fruits of 18 months of creative labour by artists and curators across the globe.

Personally, my main takeaway was SO. MUCH. ART.

Throughout the 3-day visit, our team was, all jokes aside, in danger of mutating to HeartAttack during the insanely busy days and BugAttack every night. Nonetheless, the experience, despite the chaos, was undoubtedly worth it, and over the course of the next couple weeks we are excited to provide reviews of some of our favourite moments from this truly inspirational trip.

As the cynic in the ArtAttack team, I’ll admit I tend to turn a blind eye to some of the more esoteric forms of contemporary art. Sound based art leaves me cold, performance art has never quite held my attention and I find video art to be more ‘video meh’.

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Nasan Tur: An Eloquent & Necessary Struggle

It’s been almost a week since I attended the private view of Nasan Tur‘s first UK solo exhibition at Blain Southern. And it’s not that I’ve been putting off writing this blog, but rather that I’ve needed some time to really let the German artist’s commanding work sink in, to make some sense of the powerful messages his art brings forward so rawly.

The first thing that struck me as I entered the space on Wednesday 25 March was the incredible range of works on view. The exhibition includes video, woodcuts, painting, sculpture, neon and collage, all executed with precision and purpose. But far from merely looking good, or strange, or interesting, each piece goes beyond just making a point about society and the human condition, instead grinding this point into the viewer’s head so that it’s palpable, inescapable, impossible to ignore.

The most painful yet rewarding example of this for me is ‘First Shot’ (2014). This video depicts several people, one after the other, picking up a gun, examining it and then shooting it for the first time. The entire soundtrack of the piece is silent except for the blast itself, which can be heard even in the other rooms of the gallery, making me jump every time, even when I knew it was coming.

'First Shot,' Nasan Tur, 2014
‘First Shot,’ Nasan Tur, 2014

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