Everything at Once
The Store, London WC2, until December 10
For many years contemporary art has been moving away from the traditional gallery space and, like some great Leviathan rising from the deep, set about invading a wider world. Take the Venice Biennale, for instance, where churches, palaces, libraries and old industrial buildings like the Arsenale have become showcases for the new. We are catching up.
Since 2001 London has The Vinyl Factory, an astonishing enterprise encompassing a record label, a vinyl pressing plant, a record shop, a music magazine and, in addition to all that, an impressive record of visual art commissions. Its latest venture is a collaboration with the Lisson Gallery, which is celebrating 50 years in the modern art business.
Inspired by John Cage’s 1966 pronouncement, “Nowadays everything happens at once and our souls are conveniently electronic (omniattentive)”, the exhibition mirrors our “all-at-once age”. As the very useful (and free) visitor information guide tells us, contemporary art – the best of it at least – exists as “multi-sensory visions of an accelerated world”. Accordingly the 45 works displayed over three floors in Store Studios, a vast brutalist building on the Strand, cover performance, installations, film and sound, as well as painting and sculpture.
Let no one deny it has been a terrific 50 years. The quality may be uneven but the strongest works will not only hold your attention but also stay in the mind long afterwards. So don’t miss the following: Ai Weiwei’s Odyssey (2016), a 200ft strip of wallpaper which, like the Bayeux Tapestry, tells a story of war, only here the story becomes an elegy on the refugee crisis, inspired by ancient as well as modern narratives of displaced people.
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