Bold Tendencies

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Let’s go. Yes, let’s go. (They do not move)

Ewa Axelrad’s long-standing interest in the dynamics  of public disturbance has resulted in a number of reactionary works addressing this powerful contemporary subject.  Her 2017 new sculpture, ‘Let’s go. Yes, let’s go. (They do not move)’, referenced Trafalgar Square, an iconic London meeting point associated with global gatherings and protests.
Situated on the roof of the multi-storey car park, Axelrad’s work directly interacted with Richard Wentworth’s Agora which was commissioned by Bold Tendencies in 2015. Both artists stress the importance of a discourse between art and its local environment and community. Axelrad was inspired by a conversation she had with Wentworth which discussed how urban spaces and decisions are made in order to control public movement and prevent public unrest. Interestingly, in London there is no central square which could accommodate such a protest.

The sculpture in Peckham could have read as a surreal, abandoned site encountered in an unexpected place but also as an enforcement of the Agora, wherein visitors can meet, sit and socialise. The lions at Bold Tendencies are transformed from a monument of triumph and power into domesticated big cats guarding a broken barricade. The work represented the artist’s sense of public disillusion with protests and widespread doubt in their ability to generate real change. The title, taken from Beckett, connects the installation to a theatre stage, the protest acted out therefore, a futile public spectacle.

Axelrad chose cinefoil – a thin black aluminum that is normally used to shape lighting in theatre and film industries – to make the installation fragile and impermanent, creating a clear contrast with the sculptures in Trafalgar Square. Cinefoil was also selected due to the sound it makes in the wind and rain, as well as its tendency to crumple and naturally weather in appearance giving the work a tired, time-worn character.

Ewa Axelrad’s practice comprises of installations, photographic and moving image and sculptural objects. Her research is informed mainly by specific events from the past such as personal recollections and collective memories. She is also interested in the role of aesthetics and design in the interplay of certain social set-ups. She is currently developing a new body of work addressing the notion of esprit de corps; a spirit of comradeship, morale, sense of devotion to a shared goal or fight present in the army, police and across other groups organised around combat.


Ewa Axelrad was born in Poland where she studied at Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań before moving to London to continue at the Royal College of Art. Her work was featured in many exhibitions, among the recent ones are Labour Relations at Wrocław Contemporary Museum, As You Can See. Polish Art Today at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw and State of LifePolish Contemporary Art within a Global Circumstance at the National Art Museum of China, Beijing. Her solo shows in 2017 include Satis at The Ryder Projects, London, Shtamah at Wrocław Contemporary Museum and at Copperfield, London. She is nominated for the 2017 edition of the bi-annual Deutsche Bank Foundation Award Views for Polish artists under 36. She lives and works in London and Gliwice.


For the Bold Tendencies 2017 Summer Season, Isaac Olvera installed four giant natural hair on top of four of the nine lamp posts on the car park roof. Over the summer this allowed for London’s weather and climate alter the composition, styling and texture of each one.

An important reference for the commission was the origin and form of the materials used. The human hair came from Mexico and the sculptures were inspired by the hairstyle of Natasha Fuentes Lemus (1974 – 2005), the daughter of Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes and journalist Silvia Lemus.
Since 1990, Natasha’s family split their time between London (living in a house near Earl’s Court) and Mexico City. This history forms a narrative from which Isaac Olvera started a writing performance in the wig shops of Mexico City, capturing the conversations and mixing them with his own reflections on the life of Natasha. The writing was published in script format for the duration of the Bold Tendencies season, setting up a parallel between the characters of those new fictions and the natural alterations of his wigs on the rooftop.

The technical process for the commission proposed an approach to sculpture as a phenomenon that changes in time, supported by the writing of stories. This methodology related to pieces that the artist developed as a student at Goldsmiths in London (2009- 2011). For example, his series of erotic videos, 3am – Orphan (2011) – filmed over the course of various protests – were accompanied by a practice of writing which made the videos change over time, creating 24 works – one for each hour of the day.

During the 2017 Summer season Bold Tendencies took care of the hair sculptures and monitored changes through a series of photographs, and on some occasions the sculptures had to be washed and combed. The location of the work on the top floor of the car park used, as a formal guide, the linear structure of the lamp posts, allowing visitors to move freely within the space yet identify with a new anthropomorphic form.

During this time the artist spent time in London continuing his writing performances in wig shops. His research combined a examination of the use of hair in medical applications, the harvesting of natural hair and the association of hair with calligraphy, amongst other subjects.

Olvera’s work takes as its starting point the realm of human interactions and their context. By transforming cultural and aesthetic objects into provocations, he examines how to disrupt, de-limit or extend them through writing, video, performance and installation.

How does one translate into univocal signs such a semantic irradiation, such contamination of signs and individuals in the experience of amatory involvement?
Julia Kristeva


Isaac Olvera lives and works in Mexico City. He was resident at Gasworks in 2014 and graduated from Goldsmiths college in 2011. His exhibitions and performances include Will You Respond To My Beckoning, Poet Edgar? muca-Roma, Mexico City, 2016 – 2017; Home Improvements, Casa Bosques, Mexico City, 2016; Gruta, Chopo Museum, Mexico City, 2015; Guide, Gasworks, London, 2014; Confetti Makeup, Chopo Museum, Mexico City, 2013; Helminto, Bikini Wax, Mexico City, 2013; Los Irrespetuosos, Carrillo Gil Museum, Mexico City, 2012.


Adel Abdessemed’s specially commissioned work, conceived of and made for this site, is entitled Bristow, taken from the signature work of the British cartoonist Frank Dickens, whose strip of this same title ran for 41 years in the Evening Standard newspaper and was syndicated internationally. Adel Abdessemed’s radical practice, which regularly invokes raw acts, and swift, energetic drawings, produces pictures in sculpture, video and photographs. These works form a statement that hits you like a straight punch: pictures in action, not stories in pictures. His unique approach and the force of the work he makes brings the power of the image round to a matter of feeling and elevates it to a way into the world.


Adel Abdessemed studied at the École des Beaux-arts de Batna and Algiers (1987-1994), before travelling to France where he attended the École nationale des beaux-arts de Lyon (1994-1998). He was an artist-in-residence at the Cité internationale des Arts de Paris (1999-2000), then at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York. Besides Paris and New York, the artist has also lived and worked in Berlin.

In 2016, Abdessemed was the guest artist in Avignon Festival where was hold an exhibition/conversation Surfaces. This same year, the work Bristow was commissioned by Bold Tendencies for their Peckam site, London. In 2015, he participates to the 56th Venice Biennale, All The World’s Futures (also in 2007 and 2003), and to Picasso.mania, at the Grand Palais, Paris. His 2015 solo shows count From Here to Eternity at the gallery Venus Over Los Angeles, Jalousies, complicités avec Jean Nouvel, in Vence; and Palace, at CAC Malaga.

In 2012, his work was the subject of a major solo exhibition at Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, Adel Abdessemed Je suis innocent, accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue published by the museum and Steidl, and the same year at David Zwirner, New York, Adel Abdessemed: Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

Other notable solo exhibitions include the special presentation of Décor at the Musée Unterlinden in Colmar, France (2012), the Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art, London; Ontario College of Art & Design, Toronto (both 2010); Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin (2009); MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts; San Francisco Art Institute (both 2008); P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, New York (2007); and the Musée d’art moderne et contemporain, Geneva (2004).

His works are part of important collections throughout the world including the Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris, the Museum of Israël in Jerusalem, the Musée d’art moderne et contemporain of Geneva, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Foundation François Pinault in Venice, and the Foundation Yuz in Shanghai.

In 2017 Abdessemed will be part of the Oku-Noto Triennale in Suzu, Japan, and in Lujiazui, Shanghai, and a major solo show will be held at the Musée des beaux-arts in Montréal.

Adel Abdessemed lives and works in London.


FLOURISHED brings together the combined practice of two young poets. Sophie Collins’s work is transfigurative and transformative, playing on translation methods and processual techniques to create poems that by turns reference history, structures and emotions. Sam Riviere’s poems work with the historical idea of the lyric; tormented, stunted, rooted and aware of difficult histories that surround how poems address us. What work survives us? And what would survive us if we were able to decide? Taking Sappho’s fragments as a starting point, and playing on the arguably arbitrary nature of the archive – who is gifted posterity, how is an oeuvre shaped, and why – FLOURISHED brings together imagined memorials from a poets’ workings. Cryptic and scattered, imagined and real, these indelible fragments of poems show the cycle of what it means to be remembered by their permanent presence here on site. Deciding their own destruction / memorialisation as an act of performed posterity, the fragments by Sophie Collins and Sam Riviere line these walls as a comment on how we chose to preserve our output and the spaces we inhabit.


Sophie Collins grew up in Bergen, North Holland, and now lives in Edinburgh. She is co-editor of tender, an online arts quarterly, and editor of Currently & Emotion (Test Centre, 2016), an anthology of contemporary poetry translations. small white monkeys, a text on self-expression, self-help and shame, was published by Book Works in November 2017 as part of a commissioned residency at Glasgow Women’s Library.

Sam Riviere is the author of the poetry books 81 Austerities (Faber, 2012) and Kim Kardashian’s Marriage (Faber, 2015). Limited-edition publications include Standard Twin Fantasy (Egg Box, 2014) and True Colours(After Hours, 2016). Safe Mode (Test Centre, 2017), an ‘ambient novel’, is his first work of fiction. He lives in Edinburgh and runs the micropublisher If a Leaf Falls Press.


Richard Wentworth’s Agora is a painted abstract design that covers the entire floor area of the car park roof, incorporating some of the walls. Painted in aluminium rich paint, it reflects the changing weather conditions the roof is exposed to, unifying and activating the spectacular roof space through the summer months. With Agora Richard Wentworth has pursued his interest in how spatial conditions interact with social reality. The title, designating an open assembly space in Ancient Greek, also shares an etymological root with ‘gregarious’, highlighting the work’s ambition to bring the space to life for the many visitors who experience it during the summer.
Kindly supported by Johnstone’s Trade


Richard Wentworth has played a leading role in New British Sculpture since the end of the 1970s. His work, encircling the notion of objects and their use as part of our day-to-day experiences, has altered the traditional definition of sculpture as well as photography. By transforming and manipulating industrial and/or found objects into works of art, Wentworth subverts their original function and extends our understanding of them by breaking the conventional system of classification. The sculptural arrangements play with the notion of ready-made and juxtaposition of objects that bear no relation to each other. Whereas in photography, as in the ongoing series Making Do and Getting By, Wentworth documents the everyday, paying attention to objects, occasional and involuntary geometries as well as uncanny situations that often go unnoticed.

Richard Wentworth lives and works in London. Major solo presentations include Black Maria with Gruppe, Kings Cross (2013), Whitechapel Gallery (2010); 52nd Venice Biennale (2009); Tate Liverpool (2005); Artangel (2002); Bonner Kunstverein (1998); Stedelijk Museum (1994); Serpentine Gallery (1993).

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