Culture Now Ft. Jane & Louise Wilson @ ICA

While studying and working it can be difficult to keep on top of everything going on in the art world. However, the ICA is hosting a series of lunch time talks entitled Culture Now which are truly worth a visit. Last Friday I had the pleasure of being in the audience of a talk between Gilda Williams and Jane and Louise Wilson, giving insight into contemporary art in just one hour.

Williams, a contemporary art critic, curator and lecturer, led the discussion with twins Jane and Louise Wilson wonderfully. Most of the talk centred on work currently showing at Dundee Contemporary Arts, which comprises of Atomgrad and Face Scripting – What Did The Building See? The artists’ seem to have been strongly influenced by political and social events and the work which they were talking about seems to have come with a big risk factor. Atomgrad is a series of 8 photographs taken in Pripyat, Ukraine, a town built for workers at the nuclear plant of Tchernobyl. The town is within 30km of the exclusion zone and only safe to visit for short periods of time, yet the sisters didn’t seem to be bothered when discussing their images of abandoned public places, 25 years after the disaster in 1986. They explained how the inclusion of the yardstick in each image – a measure of film – is a form of old technology, frozen in time, just like the town they have photographed. In this case is has been hidden in the photographs, it is forgotten, like the disaster.

Also discussed was the assassination of Mahmoud Al-Mabhou in Face Scripting – What Did The Building See? In order to create their film installation the women booked the room in which Al-Mabhouh died and filmed secretly after being refused permission to film in Dubai. The twins acknowledged the insecurity of this work, however, during the talk, they explained that their apparent interest in political ideas was not pre-meditated, and that often themes in their art become more noticeable after they have been completed – rather, it is a subconscious link.

I have to say before the talk I had not been brought to the attention of the Wilson sisters and the talk opened my eyes to a new, very interesting kind of art. Culture Now is definitely a worthwhile alternative to your sushi lunch in the heart of London, it is well worth a visit to give an informative end to your working week.

Culture Now continues until 4 May 2012
Jane & Louise Wilson is on show at Dundee Contemporary Arts until 25 March 2012


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Lizzy Vartanian Collier is a London-based writer and curator. She runs the Gallery Girl blog and has written for After Nyne, Arteviste, Canvas Magazine, Harper's Bazaar Arabia, Ibraaz, Jdeed Magazine, ReOrient and Suitcase Magazine. Lizzy recently curated Perpetual Movement as part of Arab Women Artists Now (AWAN) Festival 2018 in London, which was featured in Vogue Arabia and The Art Newspaper.

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