The Age of New Babylon

February 1, 2018 Curation

was the first student-led exhibition in the history of Central Saint Martins, University of Arts London.

I won the bid to organise this exhibition and chose to co-curate this three week show which included thirty one artists and an extensive public programme.

It was an ode to the Dutch architect Constant Nieuwenhuys’ New Babylon project.

    

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From top to bottom, left to right:
1. Photos of the private view of the exhibition The Age of New Babylon (2018) at the Lethaby Gallery, London. First photo: the Boulevard (2018) by Abbas Zahedi. Photos by: Jedrek Filus
2. Installation views of Flower Intervention by Samboleap Tol (left) and tell me by Amina Osmanu (right). Photos by: Yili Liu
3. Installation view of The Guest Palm Tree Moza Almatrooshi. Photo by Yili Liu.
4. Installation view of A Practice Run at a Lucid Dream, 2018 by Neale Willis. Photo by Yili Liu.

 

 

 

Press release:

The Age of New Babylon
22 November – 12 December 2018

The Age of New Babylon is the first student-led exhibition in the Lethaby Gallery. Its title is a reference to the utopian city conceived and designed by Dutch artist Constant Nieuwenhuys between 1959–74. Perched above ground, Constant’s New Babylon was conceived as a gathering of informality and performance, a future home for Homo Ludens – man at play. This radical proposal inspired us to examine the different realities that could emerge from the lived experiences of today.

Constant abandoned New Babylon after realising the inherent dread of a social utopia. Our principal commitment is to the role of imaginative gestures as interventions and ways of proposing future potentialities. We wish to expand the idea of an image to encompass anything which activates the imagination – whether that be a visual work or a piece of sound or text. Traditionally, such images were a way of organising the world into fixed cultures and histories. However with the rise of new technologies, images have gained the ability to multiply and spread, allowing them to slip out of
their frames and gain new life as performative beings.

As a result, an ever-changing fluidity displaces things that were previously seen as fixed – such as the recurring nature of selfies compared to a definitive portrait. Our use of the term live-archive is a direct reference to this dual nature of the contemporary image. Here, we have curated the works to express the same rhythm and dynamism that gives the images of today their seductive openness, highlighting the endless remixing of our bodies with visual, linguistic and poetic objects.

We believe that live-archiving can help to reframe our understanding of otherness by conveying the multiplicities contained within ourselves and the networks we inhabit. This approach helps us to understand that things are in constant flow and flux. It shows that without a clear centre and periphery, everything has the potential for difference and centrality at one and the same time. The varied nature of the works in this show allows us to highlight their multiple functions as opposed to their form – to see being out-of-sync as
the rhythm of the contemporary and to uncover new modes of knowledge. In doing so, we believe that these artworks can help to express a poetry of togetherness.

Samboleap Tol and Sara Gulamali (Curators)

Information

Curators: Samboleap Tol, Sara Gulamali
Producers: Lethaby Galley (Kate Keara Pelen) and Abbas Zahedi
Production assistant: Martha Armitage
Artists: Yemi Alade, Moza Almatrooshi, Grace Black, Imann Gaye, PAPRIKA Collective*, I-M Jerome & Jannat Hussain, Sid and Jim, Mati Jhurry, Alaa Kassim, Yili Liu, Maria Mahfooz, Abondance Matanda, Zeinab Saleh, Hannah Smythe, Samboleap Tol & The Babylonians*, Neale Willis, Abbas Zahedi. *PAPRIKA Collective presents: Boram Moon, Eunjung Kim, Helen Davison, Panic Attack Duo (Emilia Demetriou, Naz Balkaya), Chloe Nili, Demelza Toy Toy, Ada Hao. *The Babylonians are: Tagara Mhizha, Almira Farid, Jannat Hussain, Yemi Alade, I-M Jerome, Abbas Zahedi, Richmond Cloverfield
Speakers: Paul Goodwin, Cédric Fauq, Annie Jael Kwan
Photographers: Jedrek Filus, Yili Liu
Additional UAL supporting staff: Kathryn Lloyd, Jo Ortmans, Alexander Shady, Christiane Brittain
Special thanks to: Cuong Pham, Will Pham and An Viet Foundation

Details

Lethaby Gallery, 1 Granary Square, London, N1C 4AA
22 Nov – 18 December 2018
Opening times: Tuesday to Friday 11am – 6pm
Saturday: 12pm – 5pm

Links

Interview between co-curator Samboleap Tol and artist Abbas Zahedi (published on UAL website)
Official website ofnewbabylon.com including gallery of the private view and installation view
Exhibition booklet in pdf form (made possible by Martha Armitage, Abbas Zahedi, Kathryn Lloyd)
Instagram account

 

Works in the show:

The Babylonians, 2018

Three-part performance of thirty minutes, bass guitar, flute, x-factor microphone, keyboard, clip on microphones, amp.

I presented a speculative band on the private view of the exhibition. The band comprised of trained musicians, who walked around the space and musically reacted to the artworks (image on the right).

The band was then joined by non-musicians (who clapped, stomped and yelled), and together, in the dark, they jammed with no determined beginning nor ending (video)

The jam was followed by an invitation to the public at the private view to join them in a collective vocal harmonization in the dark. More than a hundred people joined in.
Photodocumentation of the performance The Babylonians on the private view of The Age of New Babylon (2018) at the Lethaby gallery, London, UK. First two photos are by Yili Liu and the third one by Jedrek Filus.

 

 

 

 

  

 

Flower Intervention, 2018,

flowers, three week performance

I ordered a bouquet to the gallery to arrive every second day of the show and installed its flowers in the nooks of the space.

Installation view of Flower Intervention (2018). Photos by Yili Liu

 

 

 

 

Neo-Babylon Juice, 2018,

300 bottles of lemonade with custom labels, photo documentation

A collaboration with artist Abbas Zahedi and local drinks producer Square Root, a non-alcoholic private viewing beverage was created called Neo-Babylon Juice.

Photodocumentation by Yili Liu