Speak, at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, brings together four artists – Tania Bruguera, Douglas Gordon, Laure Prouvost, Cally Spooner – and coincides with the Serpentine Gallery’s survey of the late British conceptual artist John Latham.
The artists in Speak each extend and update Latham’s radical world view with their own sense of urgency. The Sackler will be a transformed space with an installation of video, light, sound and sculpture in the Powder Rooms, and, in the gallery, a bid for Cuban presidency and a composition of drawings, sound and a single live body. Each artist explores language as a medium for action, exchange and disruption. Together, they reveal how Latham’s ideas continue to resonate: from taking an unconventional approach to the reception and transference of knowledge to prioritising the role of the artist in society as an agent for change.
Tania Bruguera directly addresses political and humanitarian issues in her native Cuba through performance and long-term social engagement projects. Her interventions parallel the ambitions of the Artist Placement Group (APG), co-founded by John Latham, which positioned the artist inside industry with the potential to effect change. For this exhibition, Bruguera has made a video that builds on her recent announcement to run for presidency in Cuba.
Douglas Gordon was first introduced to John Latham in his years as a student at Glasgow School of Art (1984–8), and Latham remained an influential figure on Gordon’s work. He has responded to the architecture of the Serpentine Sackler Gallery by creating a new site-specific text installation incorporating Latham’s text works, drawing out their shared interest in the relationship between language and time. There will also be a set of sculpture games, Variatham, and a new video comprising footage from an interview with Latham dating from 1999.
Laure Prouvost takes an intuitive and bodily approach to knowledge, drawing on the everyday and domestic as events merging life and art, and exploiting the slippages of translation and language to confuse fact with fiction. Her experience working as John Latham’s assistant in the early 2000s has provided a rich and playful resource for her work. For this exhibition, she has created a multi-sensory immersive environment that combines synchronised lights and a sound narrative with sculptural objects and video.
Cally Spooner’s diverse practice includes film, audio, hired bodies, drawing, writing, and live events. She will present a constellation of sound, drawing, data and a live body; a proposal for continuous restlessness and rehearsal – a warm-up for our position as individuals facing an uncertain political future. She has written new texts Early Research Methods 9 – 10 for the exhibition catalogue, John Latham: A World View, which may also take physical form as a new work within the exhibition.
Speak takes its title from a 1962 film by John Latham, in which the artist experiments with pulsating sound and image. A series of screenings, performances, study evenings and symposia at venues across London has been programmed alongside the exhibitions Speak and A World View: John Latham.
Tania Bruguera (b.1968 Havana, Cuba) is an installation and performance artist whose works often expose the social effects of the power of political force; she lives and works in Havana, New York and Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Selected solo exhibitions and performances include: Tate Modern, London (2016, 2008); Plaza de la Revolución and the Internet, Havana (2015); Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (2013); Queens Museum of Art, New York (2013); Centre d’Art Pompidou, Paris (2010); Beirut Art Center (2010) and Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2006). Selected group exhibitions include: South London Gallery (2016); 56th Venice Biennale (2015); Santa Monica Museum of Art (2014); Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw (2014); Guggenheim Museum, New York (2012); MAXXI National Museum of Contemporary Art, Rome (2012); MoMA PS1, New York (2008) and dOCUMENTA 11, Kassel (2002).
Bruguera established the Arte de Conducta (Behaviour Art) program at Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana and has recently opened the Hannah Arendt International Institute for Artivism, in Havana - a school, exhibition space and think tank for activist artists and Cubans.
Douglas Gordon (b.1966 Glasgow, Scotland) lives and works in Berlin. He works with video, installation and text, using found and original material, to investigate memory and the passage of time.
Selected solo exhibitions include: Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris (2014); Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne (2014); Museum Folkwang, Essen (2013); Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2013); Akademie der Künste, Berlin (2012); MOCA, Los Angeles (2012); MMK, Frankfurt (2011); Tate Britain, London (2010); Collection Lambert and Palais des Papes, Avignon (2008); MoMA, New York (2006) and Van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven (2003). Recent group exhibitions include: Inverleith House, Edinburgh (2016); Museum of the Moving Image, New York (2015); Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2015) GENERATION: 25 Years of Contemporary Art in Scotland, Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow (2014) and Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2014).
In 1996, Gordon was awarded the Turner Prize and in 1997 he was awarded the Premio 2000 at the 47th Venice Biennale. His film works have been presented at Toronto International Film Festival (2016); BFI London Film Festival (2016); New York Film Festival (2016); Venice Film Festival (2012); Edinburgh International Film Festival (2008); Festival de Cannes (2006), among many others. Gordon was a Juror at the 7th International Film Festivals Rome (2012) and at the 65th Venice Film Festival, Venice Biennale (2008). In 2016 he participated in the Miracle Marathon, Serpentine Galleries, London.
Laure Prouvost (b.1979, Croix, France) lives and works between Arialmorla and Moulamnbeck in Belguim. Her practice encompasses video, sound, objects and installation.
Selected solo exhibitions include: Pirelli HangarBiocca, Milan (2016–17); Le Consortium, Dijon (2016); Red Brick Art Museum, Beijing (2016); CAPC Musée d’Art Contemporain de Bordeaux (2015); Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin (2014); New Museum, New York (2014) and Tate Britain, London (2013). Selected group exhibitions include: British Art Show 8, various venues UK, (2015–7); Haus Der Kunst, Munich (2015); Taipei Biennial (2014); Nouveau Musée National de Monaco (2014) and Sculpture Center, New York (2011).
Prouvost won the MaxMara Art Prize for Women in 2011 and was the recipient of the Turner Prize 2013.
Cally Spooner (b.1983, Ascot, UK) is a writer and artist based in Athens and London. Her practice includes film, audio, drawing and live events, fiction, plays and essays.
Selected solo exhibitions include: New Museum, New York (2016); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2016); Vleeshal, Middleburg (2015) and solo projects at Tate Modern, London (2014); Performa 13, The National Academy, New York (2013) and Institute of Contemporary Art, London (2012). Selected group exhibitions include: Biennial of Moving Images, Centre d'Art Contemporain, Geneva (2016); Aspen Art Museum (2015); REDCAT gallery, Los Angeles, (2015) Kestnergesellschaft Museum, Hannover (2014), Kunstverein Munich (2014), Frieze Projects, London and New York (2014 and 2013).
Her essays/writing have appeared in Flash Art and Artforum; her book of scripts is published by SlimVolume (2016) and she is the author of the novel, Collapsing In Parts published by Mousse (2013). In 2012 Spooner participated in the Serpentine Gallery’s Memory Marathon.