In 2016, Modern Art Oxford marked its 50th anniversary as an internationally acclaimed powerhouse of contemporary visual culture. We celebrated by creating a new kind of exhibition. Called KALEIDOSCOPE, this twelve-month exhibition evolved through a series of twists bringing different artistic ideas into focus through five thematic phases. Visitors could see behind the scenes as art works were removed and installed - throughout the year - showing the life of the gallery at work with artists. KALEIDOSCOPE explored some key ideas in contemporary art by bringing back iconic artworks from the gallery's history and presenting these alongside contemporary artists, many of whom were commissioned to make brand new works for this project. This exhibit tells the story of the project as it evolved over the year.
More than 50 artists took part in this project which took audiences on a thematic journey beginning with the concept of time (The Indivisible Present); artistic responses to environmental issues (A Moment of Grace); the body as a site of experience (It's Me to the World); artists who produce visual knowledge and experience (Mystics and Rationalists); to the social systems though which art is produced and mediated (The Vanished Reality).
The Indivisible Present
KALEIDOSCOPE began with 'The Indivisible Present' - an exhibition of work of artists who explore the concept and experience of time. Framed by John Latham’s radical proposal in the 1960s that art is an event in time and space, the exhibition explored how our perceptions can be affected by temporality. It highlighted some of the ways in which our experiences of time have changed over the past fifty years - and that everyday life in the twenty-first century has greatly accelerated. The Indivisible Present included work by Douglas Gordon, Pierre Huyghe, John Latham, Yoko Ono, Elizabeth Price, Dog Kennel Hill Project and Viola Yeşiltaç.
Yoko Ono, Eyeblink, 1966 (2016)
A close encounter with the artist's own eye invites each of us to change our perception by slowing down how we see things.
John Latham, Latter Day Observer, 1963.
For John Latham, the destruction of matter and material was a productive act and a means of exploring and critiquing received ideas. Latham burned books and embedded them into the surface of his works, transforming them from containers of knowledge into sculptural objects.
SLEEP (2014/2014) by Elizabeth PriceModern Art Oxford
The title refers to the standby mode of digital devices rather than a restful state. It suggests that sleep is under threat in today's technologically driven connectivity.
KALEIDOSCOPE: The Indivisible Present (2016/2016) by Viola YeşiltaçModern Art Oxford
Viola Yeşiltaç, I Really Must Congratulate You on Your Attention to Detail, 2016
Each image captures a paper construction, temporarily balanced, then photographed to document the momentary sculpture.
Dog Kennel Hill Project: Choreography of An Argument Round A Table (2016/2016) by Dog Kennel Hill ProjectModern Art Oxford
An homage to Shelley Duvall’s legendary scene in The Shining, mythologised as having the most recorded takes in film history; members of the public were invited to recreate this iconic moment.
A Moment of Grace
Inspired by Gustav Metzger’s observation that ‘every step in nature is a moment of grace’, the second phase of KALEIDOSCOPE explored the ways in which artists use materials to comment on consumption in contemporary life. A Moment of Grace charted the many ways that artists use specific material strategies to critique globalised capitalism and its associated systems of value.
A Moment of Grace included Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Kevin Beasley, John Latham, Jac Leirner, David Maljkovic, Gustav Metzger, Gareth Nyandoro, Yoko Ono, Open Music Archive and Guan Xiao.
Instead of closing when artwork was being installed, the galleries were kept open all year round in 2016. Watch the first "transition" here.
...for this moment, this moment is yours... (2013/2013) by Kevin BeasleyModern Art Oxford
Kevin Beasley...for this moment, this moment is yours..., 2013
Made up of over 4000 found and gifted cassettes, Beasley combined sounds to create a year-long audio calendar that plays 8 hours a day.
All Together Now (1991/1991) by Jac LeirnerModern Art Oxford
Jac Leirner, All Together Now, 1991
In 1991, Leirner spent six months in Oxford as artist-in-residence. She gathered hundreds of leaflets, which she built into this spectacular work.
Kuguruguda Stambo (hypnotic lollipop eaters) (2015/2015) by Gareth NyandoroModern Art Oxford
Gareth Nyandoro, Kuguruguda Stambo (hypnotic lollipop eaters), 2015
Nyandoro's depicts the street life of his native Harare. The energy of the market is captured in fragmentary images of its vendors.
Guan Xiao, Rolling Beating, 2014
Xiao's work asks how the experience of using the Internet affect the way in which we gather and value knowledge.
Mystics and Rationalists
The artist Sol LeWitt said that ‘conceptual artists are mystics rather than rationalists. They leap to conclusion which logic cannot reach’. The third twist of KALEIDOSCOPE took LeWitt’s thought as inspiration to explore the different ways art has been used as a form of knowledge and experience production. The artists in Mystics and Rationalists employ methods of production ranging from the emotional, intuitive and psychological to approaches that are purely procedural, systematic and rational. Mystics and Rationalists included Karla Black, Daniel Buren, Dorothy Cross, Ibrahim El-Salahi, Dan Graham, Sol LeWitt, Yoko Ono and Amy Sillman.
KALEIDOSCOPE: Mystics and Rationalists (2016/2016) by Dorothy Cross, Sol LeWittModern Art Oxford
"I have never been a landscape painter and I never could be, because I always felt that nature would beat anything that I could try to attempt to paint." - Dorothy Cross
Instead of closing when artwork was being installed, the galleries remained open throughout the year enabling visitors to glimpse behind the scenes as the exhibitions were created.
Stills from 13 Possible Futures: Cartoon for a Painting (2013/2013) by Amy SillmanModern Art Oxford
Amy Sillman, Stills from 13 Possible Futures: Cartoon for a Painting, 2013
Amy Sillman printed out each stage of a digital painting frame by frame, unpacking the hundreds of decisions involved in producing a painting. The colourful images are printed onto copier paper and hung from the gallery walls. In using the technological application to slow down the process of creation, Sillman’s work demonstrates the insights that digital media can provide into art-making and into the ways in which our minds work.
Sally O'Reilly: Live Illuminated Manuscript (2016/2016) by Sally O'ReillyModern Art Oxford
In three performances during the year, Sally O’Reilly used choreographed text, live music and performing bodies to reconsider the ways that experience and knowledge are constructed. "Artists have been described as mystics, as producing different knowledges, operating beyond the logical, dismantling the habitual or conventional and superseding language." - Sally O'Reilly.
It's Me to the World
"My footsteps make the mark. My legs carry me across the country. It’s like a way of measuring the world. I love that connection to my own body. It’s me to the world." This quote by artist Richard Long formed the inspiration for the next phase of KALEIDOSCOPE. Recognising a growing separation from nature in an increasingly digitally-mediated society, 'It's Me to the World' looked at the ways in which artists from different generations have used forms from nature and the body to explore ideas of perception and cognition, intimacy and endurance.
Its Me to the World included work by Marina Abramović, Mohammed Qasim Ashfaq, Helen Chadwick, Dorothy Cross, Richard Long, Agnes Martin, Otobong Nkanga, Yoko Ono and Hannah Rickards.
Helen Chadwick, Viral Landscapes, 1989
Chadwick was known for her unconventional use of organic and manmade forms in challenging works of photography, sculpture and installation.
Tsumeb Fragments (2015/2015) by Otobong NkangaModern Art Oxford
Otobong Nkanga, Tsumeb Fragments, 2015
Nkanga's work explores memory, landscape and the legacy of colonialism in Nigeria.
The Vanished Reality
The final twist of KALEIDOSCOPE took its title from a fictional interview in 1967 between the Belgian artists Marcel Broodthaers and Rene Magritte, in which Broodthaers described his desire to reinstate ‘the vanished reality’ surrounding Magritte’s surrealist paintings. This exhibition presented works by artists who have explored how the meaning of art is shaped by political, economic and social conditions in which it is produced and presented.
The Vanished Reality included work by Marcel Broodthaers, Hans Haacke, Iman Issa, Darcy Lange, Louise Lawler, Maria Loboda, Kerry James Marshall, Katja Novitskova, Yoko Ono and Hardeep Pandhal.
A Breed Apart (1978/1978) by Hans HaackeModern Art Oxford
In 1978 Hans Haacke was commissioned to produce a new work for his solo exhibition at Modern Art Oxford. At this time, Haacke was becoming well known for an uncompromising body of work that directly articulated the connections between art, politics and economic power. Haacke became interested in the Apartheid connections of Oxfordshire’s largest employer at the time, the automotive conglomerate British Leyland (BL), which was supplying military vehicles to the South African government. His artistic response was this series of seven photo-collages, which juxtaposed scenes of racial violence including BL vehicles, with Jaguar advertisements and quotations from corporate press releases, the UN Security Council, and the UK parliament to suggest (among other things) that BL was in contravention of international law. As part of this project, BL trade union workers were invited for an afternoon at the gallery and A Breed Apart was also exhibited in St Luke’s Church hall, next door to the plant in East Oxford.
Tracings (1984/2016) by Louise LawlerModern Art Oxford
Louise Lawler, Tracings, 1984-2016
Lawler investigates the ways in which works of art are contextualised; and the impact of this framing on the audience's reception of those works. In these works, Lawler turned her analytical gaze towards the reception of her own work, collaborating with illustrator Jon Buller to create ‘tracings’ of her best-known photographs. These line drawings are digitised and printed on vinyl, manifesting the images as ghostly after-effects. The tracings are reconfigured for each context in which they are shown, and destroyed after every exhibition.
Watch the final "transition" here. Instead of closing when artwork was being installed, the galleries were kept open all year round in 2016.
Approximation V (2012/2016) by Katja NovitskovaModern Art Oxford
Katja Novitskova, Approximation V, 2012-2016
In her sculptures and installations, Novitskova appropriates pictures found online and repurposed them as freestanding objects.
Career Suicide (2016/2016) by Hardeep PandhalModern Art Oxford
Hardeep Pandhal, Career Suicide, 2016
Pandhal makes videos, sculptures, drawings and installations which examine the perpetuation of cultural stereotypes across history.
An extraordinary year of exhibition...
The KALEIDOSCOPE year attracted over 300,000 visitors to the galleries and online, and included performances, talks, film screenings and workshops all inspired by the ideas explored in the exhibitions. It involved the work of over 50 artists and gave audiences a rare glimpse behind the scenes as the exhibitions took shape.
Modern Art Oxford's director is Paul Hobson.
The KALEIDOSCOPE Programme was curated by Emma Ridgway, Sally Shaw, Stephanie Straine, Ciara Moloney and Ben Roberts, with historical research by Hilary Floe.
Production management by Scot Blyth with Andy Owen.
Project management by Curt Riegelnegg with Jonathan Weston.
Modern Art Oxford is supported by Arts Council England and Oxford City Council. Thank you to all our Director's Circle members, Patrons, Friends, corporate supporters and sponsors, and the trusts and foundations that enable Modern Art Oxford's work.
Partners and supporters of Modern Art Oxford and KALEIDOSCOPE:
Lavazza, Warburg Pincus, Art Fund, Bonhams, Culture Ireland, German Embassy London, Heritage Lottery Fund, Penny & Sinclair, Oxford Bus Company, HMG Law, Polish Cultural Institute London, Wenn Townsend, Rise, Laurent-Perrier, Private Cellar, Chris Lewis Security.
John S Cohen Foundation, Doris Field Charitable Trust, Ernest Cook Trust, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth (NZ), The Henry Moore Foundation, PF Charitable Trust, Mr & Mrs JA Pye's Charitable Settlement, The Rothschild Foundation, The Staples Trust, The University of Oxford Small Community Grants Scheme, Westgate Alliance.
Casey Kaplan Gallery, Darcy Lange Estate, Frith Street Gallery, Galerie Gisela Capitain, Kerlin Gallery Dublin, Kraupa Tuskany-Zeidler, Lisson Gallery, Marian Goodman Gallery, Sofia LeWitt, Marcel Broodthears Estate, Spruth Magers, Anne Madden, Stedelijk Museum, Tate & the National Galleries of Scotland, Stuart Shave/Modern Art, The British Museum, Thomas Dane Gallery, Tiwani Contemporary, Victoria Miro Gallery, Vigo Gallery, Walker Gallery and White Cube.
Modern Art Oxford is an arts charity founded in 1965. It is a space for everyone to enjoy and experience contemporary art, for free. Every exhibition and event at Modern Art Oxford is supported financially by friends of the gallery and members of the public who help to safeguard our future by making regular donations. Without the support of these generous and committed individuals, we would be unable to produce these inspirational exhibitions, events and activities.
Modern Art Oxford is supported by Arts Council England and Oxford City Council.
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