Bold Tendencies

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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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