Category Archives: Day of Culture

Cultural Geographers at the White Cube

Outside the White Cube, Bermondsey

Outside the White Cube, Bermondsey

On Friday, 7 December a group of MA Cultural Geographers, together with Creative Writers, PhD students and staff gathered at the White Cube Gallery in Bermondsey to visit the recently opened Antony Gormley Exhibition “Model”.

Thinking about questions of the body, affect, architecture and space the group examined the exhibition’s collection of working models from Gormley’s past and present work, as well as new and recently made sculptural works installed in the gallery’s central corridor.

The centre piece of the exhibition was the huge room-size installation “Model.” “Model,” rendered in 100 tonnes of weathered sheet-steel developed Gormley’s long running exploration of the human body and space in the form of an installation the audience can enter. Described as part sculpture-part building we entered ‘Model” through a ‘foot,’ walking and crawling through the interlinked spaces and feeling our way through the darkened chambers. Whilst many of us explored the space by way of feeling its edges or stepping blindly into the dark and hoping for the best, Giles extended his bodily capacities by using his umbrella as a prosthesis (!). Extending it up and to the side he felt for ceiling and walls, and used it to create vibrations and knocking against the walls, explored the spaces as echo chambers, using sound as a means to determine dimensions that could not be seen in the dark.

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After the exhibition, the group went for lunch, and then wandered along the embankment.

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Cultural Geographers at large in London

Geographers at the Shard

Geographers at the Shard

HH

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Days of Culture

During the Summer, with the Landscape Surgery term complete, those few still residing in Central London met up for ‘Days of Culture’ and a catch up. Landscape Surgery’s ‘Days of Culture’ are an opportunity to visit some of the fantastic museum and gallery spaces London offers in abundance. In May, LS visited the Victoria and Albert Museum for a guided viewing of the ‘Recording Britain‘ Exhibition by curator Gill Saunders.

Over summer a smaller cohort of surgeons attended the ‘Vanity of Small Differences’ exhibit, by Grayson Perry at Victoria Miro gallery and ‘Superhuman’ at the Wellcome Collection. Both exhibitions spoke to the theme of self-improvement and its objects, methods and performances.

The Vanity of Small differences exhibited the tapestries produced by Grayson Perry for the Channel Four documentary ‘In best possible taste’. The documentary explored the material cultures of the ‘taste tribes of Britain’. Perry collected stories about family background, class journeys we take and the ways we shape ourselves, and our material cultures along the way.  Six tapestries documented these findings around ‘class mobility’ through the character of ‘Tim Rakewell’. It was comforting, and discomforting in equal measure to be confronted by the objects and things we emotionally invest in our everyday lives. Objects we recognise, value and use to create a sense of place and belonging. Personally, I cringed as I recognised my prized ‘penguin classic’ mug illustrated in one tapestry, I smiled as I clocked the ‘miners lamp’ and familiar ornaments from my family home in another.

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From the ordinary, to the spectacular – ‘Superhuman’ at Wellcome Collection explores the theme of ‘human enhancement’ with focus on the body, science and sport. One section focused on the role of prosthetic objects, displaying the ingenious ways that humans have compensated for loss of function throughout history – from false teeth and artificial legs, to knitted breasts. Another focused on sport, performance and chemical enhancements. Athlete’s bodies, which become in and out of place dependent their use of ‘enhancement’ and the historical, social and cultural relations that define the legality and ethics of the ‘enhancement’.

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Tom Hicks, winner of 1904 Olympic Marathon. Hicks collapsed, delaying the medal ceremony, he had consumed large doses of strychnine in brandy throughout the race. In 1904 performance enhancing drugs were accepted practice at the time, but ‘intensive training’ was limited to just four weeks before the race (Wellcome Collection, 2012).

Both exhibitions highlighted the objects, substances, and things that make space matter, and affect our experience of place, right down to the body.  Both highlighted the social conflicts, hierarchies and power relations through which choices in these matters come to matter.

Though the Grayson Perry exhibition is now closed; ‘Superhuman’ is open until October 16.