Bold Tendencies

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The focus for this year’s art commissions is Ecology and the commissioned artists are: Johann Arens, Sian Lyn Hutchings, Irina Kirchuk, Lawrence Lek, Arjuna Neuman, João Vasco Paiva, Sterling Ruby, Emilija Škarnulytė, Jenna Sutela, and Richard Wentworth.

Over the last few decades the subject of Ecology has become an increasingly urgent issue.  Ecology is not a solitary investigation into the natural world or the way that organisms and environments react inside it. It is a lens for analysing all that takes place on Earth and beyond, be it cultural or natural; language or weather: objects, subjects, processes, networks.   

In a world where Peruvian ice cores are stuffed with lead, corporations have more rights than humans, and gut bacteria helps develop infant brains – a world of gene synthesisers, hybrid corn and frozen embryos – the question of Ecology is more important than ever.

Finding points of connection between bacteria, artificial intelligence and recycling; between rural and urban, terrestrial and extra-terrestrial, Bold Tendencies presents the work of artists that bravely traverse this new Ecological terrain.  

Each new commission approaches the question of Ecology in the contemporary world in its own terms. Whether the revolutionary sounds of Haitian music, the vernacular architecture of rammed earth, or the bespoke packaging of an international courier service, each artist considers the interplay of this ecological maze. The new commissions shift from organic elements to algorithmic patterns, sonic wormholes to vibrant skylines, representing a diverse field of aesthetic and conceptual approach.


Arjuna Neuman (b. 1984) lives and works in Berlin. Arjuna is a filmmaker, writer and artist that creates works reflecting the current crisis of anthropocentric cosmologies. Faced with an increasingly networked and digitised world, Arjuna’s practice utilises different epistemological frameworks to investigate a wide range of technological and cultural phenomena – from the logistics of the Transatlantic slave trade to the ecological fallout of American nuclear facilities. Arjuna has recently presented his work at the Whitechapel Gallery, London; Istanbul Modern, Turkey; MAAT and Docslisboa, Portugal; Sharjah Biennial 13, UAE; Contour 8, Belgium; Bergen Assembly, Norway; at NTU Centre for Contemporary Art, Singapore; the 56th Venice Biennale and SuperCommunity amongst others. As a writer he has published essays in Relief Press, Into the Pines Press, The Journal for New Writing, VIA Magazine, Concord, Art Voices, Flaunt, LEAP, Hearings and e-flux. In the last few years, Arjuna has completed residencies at the ZK/U, Berlin, Germany (2017); Utopiana, Geneva, Switzerland (2016); and has two upcoming residencies this year at the  University of British Columbia, Canada, and the Bank Gallery, Shanghai, China.


Jenna Sutela (b. 1983, Finland) is based in Berlin. Her work explores exceedingly complex biological and computational systems, ultimately unknowable and always becoming something new. Having collaborated with both microbial and metalloid life forms—ingesting Physarum polycephalum, the single-celled yet “many-headed” slime mould as a form of AI or teaching machines to channel the movements of natto bacteria—Sutela evokes possible futures of decentralized ‘wetware’ intelligence as an alternative to the modern urge to achieve domination over nature and each other. Her recent commissions and exhibitions include Extremophile, GUEST, GHOST, HOST: MACHINE! Marathon, Serpentine Galleries, London (2017); Sporulating Paragraph and Let’s Play: Life, Momentum 9, The Nordic Biennial of Contemporary Art, Moss (2017); Gut-Machine Poetry, ARS17+, Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki (2017); Nam-Gut, Banner Repeater, London (2017); and Many-Headed Reading, transmediale, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (2017). She also edited Orgs: From Slime Mold to Silicon Valley and Beyond (Garret Publications 2017). Sutela is currently artist in residence at Somerset House Studios.

ABOUT Emilija Škarnulytė

Emilija Škarnulytė (b. 1987, Vilnius, Lithuania) is a filmmaker and visual artist currently based in Tromsø, Norway. Emilija’s works are vast, indicative meditations on our current ecological discourse. Her films traverse an epic landscape of geography, time and fantasy – bringing to life the indiscernible ‘hyperobjects’ that increasingly define our political and ecological crises. Interweaving images of imperceivable entities, such as quasars and neutrinos, with speculative histories of deep time and future archaeology.  Recent solo exhibitions have included Mirror Matter, Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin (2017); Manifold, Podium, Oslo (2017); Extended Phenotypes, Viafarini, Milan, Italy (2016), QSO Lens, CAC, Vilnius (2015).  Selected Group exhibitions have included Hyperobjects, curated by Timothy Morton, Ballroom Marfa, Texas, US (2018), The Baltic Pavilion for the 15th Venice Biennale of Architecture (2016), The Future is Certain; It’s the Past Which Is Unpredictable, Blaffer Art Museum, Houston (2018); If These Stones Could Sing, Kadist, San Francisco (2018); Baltic Pavilion, AA and RIBA, London (2018). She has received Kino der Kunst Project Award, Munich in 2017 and the National Lithuanian Art Prize for Young Artists in 2016. Emilija has recently completed residencies at Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin (2017) and Nordisk Kunstnarsenter Dale, Norway (2015), as well as recently spending time researching and filming at CERN.


Lawrence Lek (b. 1982, Frankfurt, Germany) is an artist living and working in London. Lawrence is currently one of the leading multimedia artists exploring contemporary post-capitalist imaginations. Developing his unique brand of ‘Sino-Futurism’, Lek creates powerful simulations of future worlds where the relationship between labour, man and machine has drastically changed. Using gaming software, video and installation, Lek subtly shifts from utopia to ruin, history to fantasy, desire to lust. Lawrence ​studied​ ​at​ ​Trinity​ ​College,​ ​University​ ​of Cambridge,​ ​Architectural​ ​Association,​ ​London,​ ​and​ ​The​ ​Cooper​ ​Union,​ ​New​ ​York.​ ​Recent​ ​exhibitions​ ​include: Hyperpavilion,​ ​​Venice​ ​Biennale​ ​(2017;​ ​​The​ ​New​ ​Normal,​ ​​UCCA,​ ​Beijing​ ​(2017);​ ​​Glasgow​ ​International​,​ ​Tramway, Glasgow​ ​(2016);​ ​​SeMA​ ​Biennale​ ​Mediacity​ ​Seoul​ ​2016​,​ ​Seoul​ ​Museum​ ​of​ ​Art,​ ​Seoul​ ​(2016);​ ​​Missed​ ​Connections​,​ ​Julia Stoschek​ ​Collection,​ ​Düsseldorf​ ​(2016);​ ​​Secret​ ​Surface​,​ ​KW​ ​Institute​ ​for​ ​Contemporary​ ​Art,​ ​Berlin​ ​(2016);​ ​​Software, Hard​ ​Problem​,​ ​Cubitt​ ​Gallery,​ ​London​ ​(2015);​ ​and​ ​​The​ ​Uncanny​ ​Valley​,​ ​Wysing​ ​Arts​ ​Centre,​ ​Cambridge​ ​(2015).​ ​Lek has received​ ​the​ ​2017​ ​Jerwood/FVU​ ​Award,​ ​the​ ​2015​ ​Dazed​ ​Emerging​ ​Artist​ ​Award​ ​and​ ​the​ ​2015​ ​Tenderflix/Tenderpixel Artist​ ​Video​ ​Award, rapidly emerging onto the international scene.


Johann Arens (b. 1981, Aachen, Germany) currently lives and works in London. Using installation and video Johann Arens surveys the documentary properties of public interiors and their inherent social textures. By deliberately placing artworks atypically he redirects attention to places in the peripheral vision. His sculptures are found embedded in standardised work environments, educational frameworks, community centres, neighbourhood businesses and digital inclusion charities. These site-related interventions are enquiries into the multiple ways novel technologies device our communal life and shape civil behaviour. Recent exhibitions have included Findings on Palpation, P/////AKT, Amsterdam, Netherlands (2018 upcoming); digital_self, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland (2017); These Rotten Words, Chapter Art Centre, Cardiff, Wales (2017); Preis für Junge Kunst, NAK, Aachen, Germany (2016); You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet, Beursschrouwburg, Brussels, Belgium (2016). Public commissions have included Motion Tracks, Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, UK (2016); Platform 2016, Deptford X, London, UK (2016); and 100 Arches, Arnolfini and Art and the Public Realm Bristol, UK (2014). Johann recently completed residencies at SPACE, London (2017), Asia Culture Centre, Gwangju, South Korea (2016) and at the Rijksakademie, Amsterdam (2014/15).

ABOUT João Vasco Paiva

João Vasco Paiva (b. 1979, Coimbra, Portugal) is a Hong Kong, and Lisbon-based artist working at the intersection of materiality, identity and space. Through diverse visual semantics, João Vasco Paiva’s practice continually provokes questions of objectivity and place. Using visual and conceptual cues to urban infrastructure, social architectures and lost communities, his work reimagines social ecologies from shifting perspectives: the outsider, the historian or the algorithm. Recent solo exhibitions have included Green Island, Edouard Malingue Gallery, Hong Kong (2016); CARGO, Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea do Chiado, Lisbon (2016); Dormant Fabric, Counter Space, Zurich (2015); and Unlimited, Media Arts Asia Pacific, Brisbane (2015).

About Irina Kirchuk

Irina Kirchuk (b. 1983, Buenos Aires, Argentina) is an artist based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, creating a vibrant and humorous practice through the interplay of material reappropration and artistic concept. Using found and destitute objects, Irina’s work comprises functionality with a novel sense of objecthood and aesthetic sensibility. Her unique visual language of Latin Arte Povera uses irony, form and urban ecologies to present a playful economy of the city and its life. Recent solo exhibitions include Liquidity trap, Zmud Project, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2017); Brochette, Irina Kirchuk & Dieter Roth, curated by Inés Huergo, Galerie Papillon, Paris, France (2017); Installation view, Slyzmud Gallery, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2015); La tripulación (The tripulation), Centro Cultural Recoleta, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2015); and Termo, Movil Center of Contemporary Art, curated by Alejandra Aguado and Solana Molina Viamonte, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2014). In 2011 Irina was part of La Biennale de Lyon and in 2016 completed two residences in France, one at the Centre Intramondes, La Rochelle, and the other at the Residences Internationales Aux Recollets, Paris.

About Sterling Ruby

Sterling Ruby (b. 1972) is an American artist living and working in Los Angeles. Sterling Ruby’s work spans an eclectic set of interests, materials and themes, gravitating around the history of 20th century American social structures: marginalised societies, maximum-security prisons, modernist architecture, artefacts and antiquities, graffiti, bodybuilders, the mechanisms of warfare, cults and urban gangs. Recent solo exhibitions have included Sterling Ruby: Ceramics, Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, USA; traveling to Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), New York (2018); VERT, Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo, Japan (2018); MIX PIZ, Vito Schnabel Gallery, St. Moritz, Switzerland (2017); Sterling Ruby, Gagosian Gallery, New York (2017); THE JUNGLE, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, Germany (2016); Sterling Ruby, Winterpalais, Belvedere Museum, Vienna, Austria (2016); and WORK WEAR: Garment and Textile Archive 2008–2016, Sprüth Magers, London, England (2016).

About Siân Lyn Hutchings

Siân Lyn Hutchings (b. 1994) is an artist currently completing her Master of Fine Arts at Northumbria University. Siân’s practice is grounded in understanding environments through ‘active listening’. Her work approaches experience through an equality of the senses, working on sites as an aural architect. Through her work, Siân aims to highlight the importance of sonic understanding, acoustic ecologies, and how we can navigate experience through a multitude of senses beyond the West’s ocular-centric lens. Recent solo exhibitions include GB8NOE with The Noematic Collective, BALTIC, Newcastle (2018), Transmission in collaboration with Richard Waring, Sea Music Sculpture Anthony Caro, Poole, Dorset (2017); The composition of Sway, ArtSway, Sway, New Forest (2016);  and 48 Bags of Sticks, Sound Installation, ArtSway, Sway, New Forest (2015). Group shows include Re:Sounding, Audiograft, Oxford (2018) and Strange Pursuit, Vane Gallery, Newcastle (2018). Siân has completed residencies at The Arts University Bournemouth and the Imagine 2020 lab, ArtsAdmin, Slovenia, in 2016. In the same year she won the Best Collective Award with her graduating year, Free Range Shows, The Old Truman Brewery.

The Noematic Collective founded by Sian Hutchings in 2016, are a collective who explore how we can understand place, environments and social impacts through sound. Currently the group consists of practicing artists, students and graduates from Arts University Bournemouth, Charles Pritchard, Georgie Ryan, Tobias Gumbrill, Oscar Lockey, Oliver Matich, Maddison Collymore and Sian Hutchings. They have exhibited in BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, The Drawing Studio, Arts University Bournemouth and have run sonic-based workshops at Goldsmiths University, Northumbria University and Arts University Bournemouth. The manifesto of the group is to increase the understanding and thoughtfulness of sound and the importance of sound where vision has been the dominant sense in western culture.


About Richard Wentworth

Richard Wentworth (b. 1947) lives and works in London. Richard Wentworth is a chronicler of daily life. Since the 1970s he has played a leading role in British sculpture, isolating both the formal and sculptural qualities of everyday objects. His extensive archive of photographs, ‘Making Do and Getting By’ (1974 onwards), captures the provisional ways in which people modify the world they inhabit. It suggests an infinite syntax of adjustment, modification and appropriation. The private smile which spectators experience when looking at Wentworth’s work is associated with a deep human capacity to associate the inventive and creative with an internalized highway code for survival. Major solo presentations include Bold Tendencies, Peckham, London, UK (2015), Black Maria with Gruppe, Kings Cross, London, UK (2013), Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK (2010), 52nd Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2009), TATE, Liverpool, UK (2005), Artangel, London, UK (2002), Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn, Germany (1998), Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (1994), Serpentine Gallery, London, UK (1993). Recent group shows include Foundling Museum, London, UK (2016), MAC, Belfast, Ireland (2016), Hayward Gallery, London, UK (2015) and Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, UK (2014).



London is an open city and the way we live in this openness sets a model for our contemporary condition: this seems to be the implied meaning of Adel Abdessemed’s Bristow installed on the top deck of the multi-storey car park in Peckham, South East London, home to Bold Tendencies. This pigeon charged with explosives and a blackberry is a symbol for today’s condition, where, amidst the network of communications that make our life possible, there is danger, mobility, and innocence. This is a symbol for contemporary citizenship. The title of this sculpture by celebrated international artist Adel Abdessemed is taken from British cartoonist Frank Dickens’ famous strip which ran for 51 years in The Evening Standard.

A new publication accompanying the sculpture took the very tension of today’s existence in London and in the world, manifested by Adel Abdessemed’s work, as a starting point. Bringing together essays by some of today’s leading London-based scholars, from the Courtauld Institute of Art, the University of Oxford, King’s College and the Victoria & Albert Museum, as well as by the architect Asif Khan, conversations of Adel Abdessemed with an artist, a journalist, a writer, on top of the car park, and poetry edited by Rachael Allen, specially commissioned for this work, with editors and contributors coming from the United Kingdom, Switzerland, France, the United States, Germany, Iran, Pakistan, Tanzania, Belgium, it is a map of the serious possibilities a dense artistic gesture in the public space can offer.

This poetry, these essays, these conversations, which tackle themes from English history, the history of art, Biblical readings, the logics of architecture, football, all engage with one main feeling: the extraordinary empowerment of living in an open world – and the fears that come with it.

Contributors: Rachael Allen, Sam Buchan-Watts, Asif Khan, Melissa Lee-Houghton, Kieran Long, Kathryn Maris, Faray Nayeri, Edna O’Brien, Oskar Proctor, Aaron Rosen, Elisa Schaar, Martha Sprackland, Jean-Philippe Toussaint, Richard Wentworth & Sarah Wilson.
Edited by Hannah Barry, Donatien Grau, & Hans Ulrich Obrist
Designed by Victoria Bridal
Published by Bold Tendencies, supported by Fluxus Art Projects
212 pages, fully illustrated 225 x 175 mm, ISBN 9-780995-663909


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.


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 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).

About The Derek Jarman Garden

The artist and film-maker Derek Jarman (1942-1994) left behind an extraordinary legacy. Perched on the wild, dynamic landscape of the beach at Dungeness in Kent this artist’s beloved home Prospect Cottage is surrounded by a marvellous garden. Often portrayed in books and film, the garden has since come to be recognised as a spectacular art work.


The Derek Jarman Garden was commissioned by Bold Tendencies and designed by Dan Bristow. Joe Balfour first approached Bristow, artist and garden designer, on behalf of Bold Tendencies in 2012, with the idea of creating a new, green space within the urban landscape of the Bold Tendencies’ site. This inaugural organic space for the multi-storey complex came to fruition as a major achievement of Bold Tendencies 7 in 2013, and has continued to develop since. With the creative guidance of Keith Collins, Jarman’s partner before his death, and with the support of David Gothard the garden at Peckham is both an homage to Jarman’s original creation, and an extension of his ideas within an urban location.

Balfour, an admirer of the garden designed by Jarman for Prospect Cottage in Dungeness, asked Bristow if he would be able to design a garden inspired by the filmmaker’s creation for Bold Tendencies. Bristow, who cites Jarman’s garden as an ongoing source of inspiration in his garden design practice, worked alongside Balfour and Greta Hewison to form an ambitious idea for a large garden space using Jarman’s work as a creative catalyst. After the early design stages in 2012, the major build for the garden began in May 2013. Approximately 800 plants were brought in to build the garden over a period of three weeks.

The conditions of Jarman’s Dungeness garden, near the coast of Kent, and those of the garden at Peckham within a multi-storey car park, are similar in many ways, both providing sympathetic locations for desert-style plants that are able to endure the elements, with their strong yet lyrical aesthetic. The garden at Bold Tendencies introduces a new facet to the original creation by Jarman, with the garden acting as an organic foil to an urban environment in the way that the seascape influenced the design of the garden at Dungeness. The 50 tonnes of soil and 25 tonnes of crushed granite (the sub-base for road building) which were transported to the roof of the car-park and used to create the distinctive terrain of the plant beds, act as an urban parallel to Jarman’s use of shingle.


Plants were chosen to be similar, though not identical, to those used by Jarman, mirroring the original garden and thus both paying tribute to and utilising it as a creative spring-board for something new. In response to Jarman’s use of Gorse, for instance, Bristow selected Poncirus trifoliata, a citrus which bears bright, acrid oranges and perfumed flowers. The circle and square motifs of Bristow’s design are suggestive of those that shape the garden at Dungeness. Railway sleepers have been used to echo the rail-tracks running parallel to the car-park; like Jarman’s garden, the Peckham garden is responsive to the local area in which it is located. Where Jarman used ‘found’ marine detritus for his garden, Bristow has included sculptural fragments of industrial waste from Peckham and the surrounding area of South London to complement and protect the plants. The plant beds were designed by Bristow to appear as though they had arrived naturally in the space, as though with the currents of an ocean, once more alluding to Jarman’s coastal conception at Dungeness.


The garden will continue to change year-on-year, with new plants being introduced and existing plants self-seeding in new areas of the garden as they thrive. The Derek Jarman Garden at Bold Tendencies will always be in a shifting state, and through it we hope that Jarman’s ideas continue to be explored innovatively and brought to new audiences.

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