GSK Contemporary: Part 2 - Collision Course

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Untitled (Church), 2005 Bonded Salt, Salt, Polyurethane, Polymer Medium, Ash, Epoxy, Wood, Galvanized Steel © Courtesy of Team Gallery and the Artist
Counting Down, 2008 30 Fiberglass Dogs, Steel, Led Counters, Led Strips, Paint © Courtesy the Frank Cohen Collection; Royal Academy of Art
GSK Contemporary: Part 2 - Collision Course

Burlington House
W1J0BD London
December 8th, 2008 - January 19th, 2009
Opening: December 8th, 2008 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Other (outside main areas)


Collision Course links together

three exhibitions: Sudden White (after London), Dark Materials and Burroughs Live . In doing so, it is intended to create an impression of a future fantasy connected to palaeontology; William Burroughs, late 19th-century literature, gothic sensation; and the collision that is occurring between media, cultures and generations.

The idea of a post-apocalyptic landscape is evoked in Sudden White (after London) through artists' film, video, painting and text, illuminating the popular imagination of a science-fiction future.

Dark Materials introduces a world that has quite literally been stripped back to its bare bones in an exhibition of new works loaned by the Frank Cohen Collection. This provides a link between the influence of early science fiction that underpins Sudden White (after London) to William Burroughs, who spelt out his own vision of the apocalypse with the words ‘everything is permitted because nothing is true'.

Most critical attention during Burroughs' lifetime focused on his literary output, but he progressively combined the visual arts with literature. His great strengths remain his experimental approach to life, his confrontation of society's taboos and his mesmerising performance of his own work.

Burroughs Live conjures up the presence of Burroughs within the context of Collision Course,where multifarious forms collide to create dynamic relationships.

-David Thorp, Curator GSK Contempora

Burroughs Live, curated by José Férez marks the mid point between the tenth anniversary of William Burroughs' death and the fiftieth anniversary of the first publication of his best known novel Naked Lunch. By means of film and video footage of Burroughs performing his works to camera alongside portraits of him by photographers, Robert Mapplethorpe, Annie Leibovitz, Ira Cohen and his self portraits and artworks, the presence of Burroughs is evoked. Examples of his collaborations with other artists such as Brion Gysin, Keith Haring and George Condo are exhibited alongside rare editions of Burroughs' books.

Portraits of Burroughs by, among others, David Hockney and Francesco Clemente as well as Damien Hirst are on show together for the first time. The exhibition opens with Gus Van Sant's short film of Burroughs reading his ‘Thanksgiving Prayer', an appropriately seasonal and bleak indictment of mainstream American values. This exhibition contains previously unseen footage of Burroughs and some of the artefacts he created but it remains essentially a trans-media event emphasising Burroughs' seminal position as a writer and performer of his own work for whom the devastating effects of an apocalyptic vision went hand in hand with an attitude that regarded life as an experiment.

Dark Materials is a selection of work from the Frank Cohen Collection. GSK Contemporary curator David Thorp has drawn together recently acquired works by international artists, all of which evoke a sense of the aftermath of an apocalyptic disaster. Banks Violette's Church is a huge installation showing the burnt out framework of a church. TV Santhosh's Counting Down shows digital timers on the back of metal dogs counting down to the final moments to catastrophic disaster. There is also work by Hyungkoo Lee, Jitish Kallat and He An.

Sudden White (after London) is curated by Mark Beasley (from Creative Time, New York) and occupies one of the main galleries. The visitor is confronted with a large painting by the cinematic scenic artist Russell Oxley depicting a post-apocalyptic London cityscape. Set behind the painting, the viewer is led into a screening area for artists' films, projections and lightboxes, which will include work by Cyprien Gaillard, Linda Weiss, Guido van de Werve, Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt, Jonathan Horowitz, Mungo Thomson, Lisa Oppenheim, John Russell and Ryan Gander.

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