This past weekend I went to Art 14, a contemporary and modern art fair featuring works from 43 countries and over 700 artists.
There was a lot that turned my head – occasionally because the works were beautiful, but more often because a piece was provocative or even disturbing.
There was a lot of buzz surrounding ‘Maze’ by UK based Stuart Pearson Wright starring Keira Knightley (Hollywood A-listers tend to have that an effect). In the film, an Elizabethan courtier is navigating a maze in search of his lover, told through two films projected on to two separate screens positioned on opposing sides of the installation.
There was a huge amount of rustling, movement and tension as the two Elizabethans try to make their way through the maze and find each other – where things got interesting for me was that to experience the film, we needed to navigate our way through the room making our way around the screens – mirroring the motion of the actors and reflecting the tension of their separation as we tried to piece together a story told across two screens.
Then on the exhibition floor I listen to a guide as she discussed Israeli artist Arik Levy’s ‘Air Crater’. She talked about the artist’s fascination with the human form, which is hardly revolutionary in the tradition of sculpture (think Michelangelo, Canova, Rodin, etc etc etc…). But then she explained that in this instance the exploration of form was not depicted through the sculpture itself but through the viewer’s experience as you walk around the piece and watch your shape morph and transform (think fun house mirrors).
In the context of my day job, both the sculpture and the film installation reminded me of how we often put the experience and even the definition of a brand in the hands of a consumer through the invitation of the creation of user generated content.
Like most people, I instagrammed and hastagged my way through the Fair. And like most people, the Recycle Art Group (Russian artists Andrey Blokhin and Georgy Kuznetsov) installation caught my attention. Amongst other iconoclastic pieces, there was an imposing sculpture of a cross, which upon closer inspection curved into the familiar lower case f that has come to denote Facebook, making a not so subtle statement about the reverence with which we regard our social media feeds (#guiltyascharged).
Upon leaving, I noticed a sign that read ‘Art is what you can get away with’. This really struck a chord – what excites me about art – whether Brueghel or Banksy – is the desire to push boundaries and challenge our assumptions and perceptions. From that perspective, Art14 definitely delivered.
Avra Lorrimer is head of household, consumer packaged goods at Hill + Knowlton Strategies.