London, Sunday: Beautiful autumn sun with snappy hint of chill drew us out for a day of parks and art. Klara Lidén installation and videos at the Serpentine Gallery, walking in Hyde Park to see the four Anish Kapoor mirror sculptures, pie and beer at Lancaster Gate, and then nip up to Chalk Farm to find Peter Blake’s collection at the Museum of Everything, and then communing at the top of Primrose Hill.
This Swedish artist was new to me. When you walk in the exhibition, you are immediately faced with what seems to be stacks of arbitrary ordinary objects , and visible in the forthcoming room, rubbish stuck on the wall. With instant scoff-o-meter kept at bay, I wandered past a video of Klara beating up a bicycle in a seeming act of senseless destruction, to triplicate video screens showing another wanton action of vandalism, throwing chunks of matter into a city river from a perhaps bleak vantage point. The pared down music that accompanied this made it seem more like a beautiful ritual, and then the moment clicked with me. I watched twice her moonwalk through the night city, an entrancing single-minded slowly enacted performance. It was like a determination to keep moving against the normal flow, and made extra graceful by more pure music (same band). Man with family completely failed to engage “that’s so Michael Jackson” as they withdrew moments after entering. I sympathised with that impatience with not ‘getting it’ and reluctance to spend time with suspect art work, but I was on the won-over side, loving it. Then I found out the stacks of objects were the complete contents of her flat (not destroyed re. Michael Landy, but out of use), and on the wall were layers of posters from the street that had been fly-posted with blank white ones – a rebellious interaction that silences some of the jarring commercial noise of the urban space. The exhibition copy says “Lidén reveals the hidden aggression and potential rebellion that rests under the surface of our cities and their inhabitants” – it seems something worth thinking about. I like that she “disrupts our shared and accepted social norms with a focused, radical energy”.
Four large mirror shapes closely apart in Hyde Park. The big C-curve allows the viewers to see themselves inverted on the concave side. The two discs out in the river are like satellite dishes transmitting directly the movement of the skies. The fresh look these gave of our immediate surroundings brought to mind similar though less clear effects from camera obscura . And there’s the amazingly sharp pointed one, sticking up thorn-like. At the right distance it started to reflect itself. The C-curve was predictably popular, we all love looking at ourselves.
Museum of Everything
An enjoyable ramble through rooms of the pop artist Peter Blake’s collection of interesting things, self-taught art, yesteryear ephemera, fairground posters, puppets, taxidermy, and so on. The moving from one surprise to another up and down stairs, through curtains – great fun. My favourites, and in my mother’s memory too, the gorgeous Punch and Judy figures. My least-liked, and actually a candidate for Room 101, the Victorian anthropomorphic taxidermy. I hate to think that as an 8-year-old or so I might have favoured gambling stuffed mice, and a schoolroom of dead frogs. Give those animals their dignity back!