Bombay-based Ashok Sukumaran is one of the few artists in the world making work that directly addresses the issues of infrastructure in cities, electricity, water supply and other essential services. He produces startling public artworks that involve entire communities. This March he presents The Neighbour in P3, the massive construction halls buried deep under the University of Westminster in central London. Presented by The Arts Catalyst and P3, The Neighbour opens on 13 March 2009.This ambitious site-specific project is Sukumaran’s first major one-person exhibition in Europe. In The Neighbour, two mobile homes stand side by side, one fixed and shining brightly with energy, the other smaller and moveable. But in a reflection of the complex relationship between neighbours, each vehicle is subtly stalking one another, moving slowly like hunter and prey.
After researching the culture of fixed and moving mobile homes in the UK, Sukumaran found the metaphor of the nomadic travelling home compelling, trying to find power and resources as it can, as opposed to the fixed ‘residential’ mobile home, concealing only its symbolic wheels below the brickwork.
Sukumaran says: “This lurker, pest, potential collaborator, potential spy, potential contaminant appears often in my own recent work. For me, it is crucial to understanding the shape of relations in the electronic city not only as diagrams but as leakages, negotiations and refusals outside of the network paradigm.”
Ashok Sukumaran (b.1974) came to prominence internationally with the extraordinary work Glow Positioning System, a public lighting installation that involved collaborations with energy supply companies, shop owners and local residents to allow a hand-turned crank to operate a moving display of light around the buildings in a wide circle, so the ordinary public could literally control a ‘live’ panorama of light using the basic principles of electricity. He continued with linking a slum to a middle class area with a half-kilometre line of moving lights controlled by a button either end, in Two Poles. Sukumaran, winner of the first prize in the UNESCO Digital Arts Award and a Golden Nica at Ars Electronica, Austria, recently showed in Indian Highway at the Serpentine Gallery, London (with Shaina Anand) and is currently showing at the Sharjah Biennale.
The Neighbour is commissioned by The Arts Catalyst in partnership with P3. The Arts Catalyst is a leading London based interdisciplinary art organisation commissioning new work that experimentally and critically engages with science.
P3 is a 14000 square ft space developed from the vast former concrete construction hall for the University of Westminster’s School of Engineering. It has recently been described as ‘One of the capital’s hidden and most exciting new spaces’ by The Guardian.
The Ambika P3 programme commissions artists and researchers across creative disciplines, particularly those developing large-scale installations and prototyping, where full advantage can be taken of the large and accessible space.
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