Visions in the Nunnery – a renowned showcase of contemporary moving image and performance work – is returning to Bow Arts’ Nunnery Gallery, London for a special celebratory tenth edition. Selected from over 1500 world-wide submissions, combined with a star-studded list of invited artists and previous exhibitors, the show will present a unique and exciting platform for cutting edge digital and performance art.
The 2016 exhibition will showcase over 100 artists’ work through an innovative six-part programme, punctuated by 12 events featuring live performances in the gallery and its unique Victorian enclosed courtyard. Exhibition partners include Artsadmin, who are lending Steve Lambert’s iconic and interactive installation Capitalism Works For Me! True/False, LIMA, an international platform for media art, who will lend a variety of work including Marina Abramović’s The Scream and the Rotterdam-based Unnoticed Art Festival. Cinzia Cremona, curator of this year selection with Tessa Garland talks about their choice for this special edition.
How was the programme for this year’s Visions in the Nunnery selected, and how does it fit in with the event’s history and mission?
With the support of Nunnery Gallery director Sophie Hill and the Bow Arts Trust, this year we have been able to extend the programme from four weeks to almost two months. This means we can include a greater number of artists with video works, installations and live performances.
Tessa Garland and I have curated Visions for several years, and we’ve noticed that the young artists we have invited have gone on to build successful careers, winning prizes and obtaining critical acclaim. This year we decided to invite back some of the artists who presented their work here in the past, like Mikhail Karikis, a candidate this year for the prestigious Jarman Award; Rob Crosse, who won the Kaitlin Art Prize in 2013; Jonathan Monaghan, Katherine Meynell, Uriel Orlow, Ori Gersht, Tanya Syed, Alexa Wright and Richard Layzell. What’s more, and this is the great news of this year, we have extended the call to live performances.
What are your criteria for selecting the artworks?
Visions in the Nunnery was started with the intention of showcasing a cross-section of international video production from the past three years. We focus on presenting emerging artists alongside established figures, so as to create an opportunity for dialogue between generations and contexts. We have always paid particular attention to our local context in east London, an area where there are large numbers of artists but where the social fabric is particularly complex. Since we have different yet complementary interests, Tessa and I have never wanted to restrict the selection to a single theme or title.
Artsadmin, LIMA and the Unnoticed Art Festival are three different groups and important landmarks for live performance and media art. How do they contribute to the project?
We see collaboration with festivals and organisations in the same light: it offers the artists involved an opportunity to widen their network of contacts and access new contexts. Artsadmin and LIMA have been generous contributors of works to be included in the programme: Steve Lambert’s installation Capitalism Works For Me! True/False is an interactive work which will occupy the Victorian courtyard of the Bow Arts Trust for the duration of Visions in the Nunnery. Our collaboration with LIMA began several years ago. LIMA has made it possible to show video works from its catalogue, including a piece by Marina Abramovic (Scream, to be screened on the afternoon of 23 October).
Our exchange with the Unnoticed Art Festival came about in a more organic way: Irina Danilova and Hiram Levy, two artists from New York, put me in touch with Frans van Lent (the founder and curator of the Rotterdam festival), who responded enthusiastically. A selection of works from the latest edition of the festival will be screened by volunteers, and Frans will contribute a performance during the final event on 17 December.
The programme includes networked performance projects and interactive performances. Can you tell us about these projects?
This selection of works is directly linked to the symposium taking place on 12 November which will explore emerging technologies in relation to artistic practices of performance and moving image. The piece presented by Annie Abrahams (Distant Feeling(s) #1) continues the research of an artist who challenges the relational utopias attributed to the internet by creating performances which reveal empty yet precious moments, and the banality of interpersonal relations. The performance links Abrahams to two other artists (Daniel Pinheiro & Lisa Parra); from three different locations the three seek to communicate sensations and emotions. Natalia Skobeeva, recent winner of the Red Mansion prize, will conduct a round-table discussion via devices connected to internet and with Siri at the centre. As for me, I will continue the experiment in which I share food and drinks via Skype, which I have also taken to the BNL Media Art Festival in Rome: this version of By Invitation Only consists of a buffet which combines guests who are physically present and remote guests attending via smartphones and tablets.
The programme also includes the re-enactment of Elaine Shemilt’s pioneering video performance from the seventies, Döppelganger. Can you tell us where the idea came from to re-stage this performance?
For Visions in the Nunnery 2016, Laura Leuzzi and Adam Lockart have curated this live re-enactment, which sees Elaine Shemilt come face to face with her pioneering video work. Three decades on, Shemilt’s intention is to reactivate, and at the same time enter into dialogue with this performance piece, presenting it as Doppelgänger Redux. The idea arose from the research project EWVA, European Women’s Video Art in the 70s and 80s, based at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Dundee University, with funds allocated by the AHRC. In this case the re-enactment constitutes a form of research and study which fits well in the context of Visions.
As you will notice from the programme, Visions is not only curated and organised by women, but there is also a strong female presence both in the performances and the video selections. I will also be contributing to EWVA in the role of honorary research fellow, and our collaboration with this project, together with the inclusion of a selection of works from the Rome Media Art Festival, is a natural consequence of the fact that Visions shares aims and interests with these projects of research and dissemination.
Visions in the Nunnery 2016, curated by Cinzia Cremona and Tessa Garland, Nunnery Gallery, 181 Bow Road, London, 05.10 – 18.12.2016
images Carla Chan, Black Moves, 2016, video still. Courtesy of the artist (2) Cinzia Cremona, By Invitation Only, 2016, still from networked performance. Courtesy of the artist (3) Grace Alexandra Williams, V is for Val, 2014, video still. Courtesy of the artist (4) Mark Langley, Mimic, 2016, video still. Courtesy of the artist (5) Ben Fox, Frott Age, 2016, video still. Courtesy of the artist (6) Douwe Dijkstra, Démontable, 2014, video still. Courtesy of LIMA