In the Air Tonight is a gathering of works by four London-based artists into an exhibition whose content and curatorial approach evoke and coincide strongly with associations and memories of a pop song from 1981. The essence of this exhibition is reflected in its title, as well as in its devotion to an aesthetics—aesthetics being the core of artistic production—which allows the comprehension of developments in art that are literally “in the air.” The addition of “tonight” is a reference to the act of curation, the fragmentary and temporary quality of an exhibited constellation. Rather than being based on a clear-cut theme, the nucleus of the curatorial practice that gave rise to In the Air Tonight was shaped by an intensive research process and a chance-driven approach. The idea was to produce a many-voiced setting that includes contrasting artistic methods so as to reveal cross-references and aesthetic overlappings such as reduced color spectrums, elaborately treated surfaces, and a common drive toward the linkage of form and content.
In the Air Tonight arose out of several periods of residence in and research trips to London, both in October 2012 and July 2012. I selected artists of different generations with different origins—Great Britain, Greece, and the United States—and yet, these origins are hybridized through multiple journeys and stays in other places. While premodern times saw cultural production’s determination through national belonging and tradition, artists nowadays navigate through an ocean of global restructurings. The art lies in grasping this transformation of the relevance of site (Arjun Appadurai). An experiment geared to the uncovering of a possible common visual culture particular to London was an essential component of my research. I view the artists in this exhibition as agents who move inside and across loose networks. I consider them participants in negotiations that materialize directly in London’s art schools, galleries, and institutions—and indirectly in the approaches taken by inter-national councils, biennials, art fairs, and exhibition platforms. Negotiations that ultimately shape an aesthetic discourse in a multipolar, global art system.
In the Air Tonight is, as such, an intricately devised exhibition as well as a curatorial method inspired by the disciplines of Visual Culture and Aesthetics. It is an attempt to highlight precise interconnections between artists who live and work in London. Each artist is featured with works that are exemplary of his or her oeuvre, that signify specific conceptual interrogations as well as combinations of contrasting site-references. At the same time, these works also display a shared discourse that is based not only on the minimalistic gesture, but also on the combination of painstakingly prepared surfaces. Viewers are invited to immerse themselves in these sublime yet penetrant works. The addendum “tonight” is hence a call for heightened scrutiny. For just as one is compelled in the dusk—which is neither light nor shadow—to focus his or her gaze in order to recognize the contours of the night, so are viewers invited to engage with this aesthetic experiment. All these loose connections result in a quiet, yet insistent hum: there’s something in the air tonight.