Everything at Once presented by Lisson Gallery + The Vinyl Factory, 2017
I didn’t know much about the venue, 180 The Strand, as I waited there for it to open, but couldn’t help focusing my gaze on the huge bright pink advertising board for the show Everything at Once.
The show covers the ground, first and second floors, and was curated by Greg Hilty and Ossian Ward for Lisson Gallery in collaboration with The Vinyl Factory. The exhibition was created to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Lisson Gallery, and is noted as being an ambitious group exhibition which is absolutely what it turns out to be. Inspired by words taken from John Cage in 1966, on the changing conditions of contemporary existence, we could easily apply our current anxiety-ridden age of ceaseless communication to this exhibition’s thematic title.
“Nowadays everything happens at once and our souls are conveniently electronic (omniattentive).” – John Cage, 1966
I intended to review this exhibition in contrast to a review I have seen for Artlyst written by Edward Lucie-Smith but the only thing I took from the article was the line about the Greek Titan Chronus devouring his children for fear they would grow up to replace him, in relation to the overpowering nature of the speed of technological advances acting as Chronus over us, the audience, as his children. I feel an unease, and a possible lack of substantial knowledge of greek mythology to fully appreciate his critical thought on the exhibition, for I fear he has missed the point, but I am also distracted by the quality of the installation shots included in the article.
This is an exhibition which looks to give you everything they have, all at once, through as many streams as possible, the aim is to fill your senses and leave you fit to burst. With such an array of artists on their books, Lisson Gallery have done a curatorial job worthy of much accolade. The liminal spaces between the work legitimately give that refreshing pause you need, like a sorbet between dinner courses, and the information in the guide feeds you enough background to figure out the connections. The show is layered well over the three floors, with moments of reflective calm on the second floor, sandwiched within the sensory overload.
The highlights for me were Ai Weiwei on the ground floor with Odyssey (2016), Iron Tree Trunk (2015) and Iron Root (2015); Cory Archangel with MIG 29 Soviet Fighter Plane and Clouds (2005); Marina Abramovic with her projected works Freeing the Voice (1975), Freeing the Body (1975) and Freeing the Memory (1985); Laure Prouvost showing the film Lick in the Past (2016) with accompanying visuals and hip-hop soundtrack; conceptual and land artist Richard Long with a temporary mural called Pelopennese Line (2017) on the first floor and Susan Hiller with Channels (2013) on the second floor.
The press release offered by Lisson Gallery explains the show in these terms, ‘Through new and historical works by 24 of the artists currently shown by Lisson Gallery (out of more than 150 to have had solo shows over the past 50 years), this extensive presentation aims to collapse half a century of artistic endeavour under one roof, while telescoping its original aims into an unknowable future.’ Through this I begin to understand both the theme and the context of the exhibition in terms of it’s overloaded visual, audio and immersive experience.
I got to the end of the exhibition absolutely exhausted. I didn’t even scratch the surface of the exhibition, yet I realise now, this is in fact, the point.