Review Strange Days – Memories of the Future 108 The Strand London

Presented by The New Museum 180 strand, London on until the 9th of December 2019 

The sprawling and monolithic space at 180 the strand is like stumbling across a super sexy monolithic maze of epic proportions spawning over three floors of an abandoned / about to be refurbished bank this space taken over by the New Museum in New York puts our British institutions to shame. Im at this point unsure about the background funding and genius idea/ concept for this mega show… However in my eyes our institutions should be ejacultaing this shit across the globe especially in fragile and uncertain Brexit times.

Not that I am a huge fan of Video Art and its ability to engage ( Despite being Director of the Video Art Gallery in Deptford 2005 -2008 ) Perhaps this either tarnished or ennobled my stance on the medium?  But also as we become a more rapidly moving image society from the TV, to the internet how can one find solace in such medium in our frantic and hyped up globalised society?

Strange days and memories of the future is not a place to breath but a place to be assaulted and confronted by both the enormity of the Universe and the brutalities of existence with a pinch or two of humour and the sublime thrown in for good measure.

Two works stood out to me personally were the Pipilotti Rist installation she was the only Artist that gave me some respite from the madness of London. An Art Gallery with beds in it HELL YES ! A total welcome from the frantic streets outside, the dream like and phallic and sexual organic and evolutionary imagery was spell binding and ethereal, I want to go back just to see this once more….

A few loops levels and many bombastic overly heavy and disturbing videos later I come across the work by Wong Ping for me this spoke directly to my soul and the differences between love and sex, both humorous and ultimately a philosophical anomaly. The short but brightly comic animation probes many questions facing lovers and societal norms over sex and relationships, both awkward, eye opening and honest in a fantastical and imaginary way it opens up a debate between what is both private, state and societally acceptable both in Hong Kong where the Artist is from and the World in general who is totally frigid (i’ m a gay man BTW ) !

After these two works I couldn’t get out of the space quick enough especially it being the hottest October day in Record for London ( Being stuck in a basement is no fun !!) Ultimately I was lost in the immense amount of Video Art on display and certainly there is a work for everyone in this show that will speak to each and everyones soul … navigating the experience of the space is another thing… but for those of us that love a physical presence you will be delighted at the Columns by Ben Kelly at the escape or ( walk through the gift shop ) experience at the end… its a shame the Curators couldn’t have mixed up the exhibition with a bit more sound/ installation and experiential work for those of us bored of looking at a screen all day…….. Ultimately this brings us to the question why are we not doing more to improve and promote British Art abroad and invest in our cultural projection to the World especially in these most disturbing times for the United Kingdom…. well done for a US institution  for throwing their weight around and promoting their prowess on the international Art scene especially with such a fragile leader as they have now……. 


As an amendment to this article

I read to day that the Tate recently staged its most popular exhibition in China at the Shanghai Museum * The Arts Newspaper. Maybe we are doing more to promote British culture than i realise !