RA Magazine Winter 2011
Issue Number: 113
Preview: The artists of the Cultural Olympiad
The great and the good of the art world are limbering up for the 2012 Olympics with their own cultural Olympiad. So who is in with a chance of a medal? By Ben Luke
Anish Kapoor RA, 'A visualisation of Orbit', 2012. ANISH KAPOOR RA
The Olympiad’s most emblematic commission – and already its biggest talking point – is Orbit which is nearing completion on the Olympic site in Stratford, east London. Anish Kapoor RA has collaborated with engineer Cecil Balmond to create this spectacular tower, comprising visceral tubes in the artist’s trademark deep crimson, coiling their way to a viewing platform at the top. The design, Kapoor has said, ‘comes from trying to rethink what a tower might be, so we decided on an orbital rather than a linear form’. Orbit is deliberately unstable in appearance, ‘a form that seems to be teetering, weaving itself, a loop,’ says Kapoor. The Indian-born British artist’s references are characteristically rich, with the Tower of Babel, the Eiffel Tower and Tatlin’s Tower (a model for which stands in the Annenberg Courtyard at the RA this winter) all influencing his thinking. And at 120m high, it will offer, Kapoor says, ‘a wonderful view, a new vista over London’.
Martin Creed, 'Work No. 245: All of the Bells in a City or Town Rung as Quickly and as Loudly as Possible For Three Minutes', 2000, installed in San Gimignano, Italy. © Martin Creed/courtesy Martin Creed and Hauser & Wirth/Photo Martin Creed. MARTIN CREED
The opening of the Games will be heralded by a major new sound work by Martin Creed. It will be ‘all of the bells in Britain rung as quickly and as loudly as possible for three minutes,’ Creed says, inspired by a similar work he made in 2000. He will corral bell ringers and volunteers across the country in a bid to ensure that all the church and municipal bells across Britain are rung simultaneously for three minutes at 8am on 27 July, 2012, the opening day of the Olympic Games. ‘It is a very old-fashioned way of communicating, without the use of amplification,’ says Creed.
Anthony McCall, 'Column' (artist’s impression) rising from Wirral Waters, Merseyside, 2009. © Anthony McCall. ANTHONY MCCALL
Anthony McCall’s Column on the Wirral estuary on Merseyside, will be ‘a slender vertical line of cloud which connects the land to the sky,’ he explains. Column is generated by pipes and pumps just beneath the water’s surface, and it will spin like a natural vortex, before harnessing the forces of nature to rise up to 10km into the sky. On a clear day, it may be visible from up to 100km away. ‘It is going to be very much embedded in the weather and the sky,’ says McCall. He hopes Column will ‘quietly create
a sense of wonder’.
The Danish-Icelandic artist, whose Weather Project hypnotised visitors to Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in 2003, has also turned rivers green and created waterfalls in New York City, so expect his commission for the Olympiad – details were under wraps as RA Magazine went to press – to be both poetic and spectacular.
Titian, 'Diana and Actaeon', 1556-59. Photo © The National Gallery, London. TITIAN
The National Gallery and Royal Ballet have joined forces for ‘Metamorphosis: Titian 2012’ a triple bill which premieres in July at the Royal Opera House. Inspired by three great Titian paintings in the National, Chris Ofili, Mark Wallinger and Conrad Shawcross will each create a set, while choreographers, including Will Tuckett and Wayne McGregor, will create new ballets with music by Mark-Anthony Turnage, among others. ‘Titian is brilliant for dancers,’ says National Gallery curator Minna Moore Ede, ‘because he is a wonderful painter of movement.’
Detail of the nineteenth-century façade of the Whitechapel Gallery, by Charles Harrison Townsend, that will be cast by Rachel Whiteread. © Whitechapel Gallery/ Photo Patrick Lears. RACHEL WHITEREAD
Rachel Whiteread will create a frieze across the front entrance of the Whitechapel Gallery. She will cast in bronze the leaves from the Tree of Life relief on the gallery’s façade, before gilding them and scattering them across her frieze. ‘It will be understated, elegant and very much in the spirit of the whole building,’ says Whitechapel Director Iwona Blazwick, ‘and it will add just a bit of glister to the high street here, as well.’
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