THE SMITHSON PLAZA, ST JAMES'S ST, SW1A 1HA
Press Preview 10.30am Friday 5th October 2018
Press are invited to an exclusive preview and unveiling of Zak Ové’s ‘Autonomous Morris’ installation at the Smithson Plaza.
Click here to RSVP
International real estate developer, Tishman Speyer, in collaboration with Vigo Gallery and Encounter Contemporary, announces the debut exhibition of ‘Autonomous Morris’ by British-Trinidadian artist Zak Ové at the newly re-opened Smithson Plaza.Standing at approximately 10-feet high, the ‘Autonomous Morris’ sculpture is the largest mask the artist has completed to date and is set to be unveiled to the public on Friday 5th October, during Frieze London, remaining on show in the plaza until early 2019.
Made from deconstructed and collaged vintage car parts welded together to produce a futuristic yet retro, cross-cultural totemic mask, ‘Autonomous Morris’ is a motorised ‘Macco’ – a person who involves themselves in other people’s business for the purpose of gossip and posterity.
Ové’s sculpture references his interest in the sculptural aspects of cars, using them to represent geographical movement, historical documentation, protection and nostalgia. The sculpture is entirely made from discarded car parts including several vintage Morris Minor bonnets, referencing the assumed British tradition of Morris Dancing, which in reality came to the UK courtesy of the Moors. As an unwitting monument to the recent news that the last VW Beetle is to roll off the production line next year, the sculpture’s organic lines and animated filmic representations add to the cultural potency of the material.
Zak Ové commented, “I’m fascinated by ideas around time travel, the spread of diaspora and the positive effects of colliding cultures. My sculpture highlights my belief in the power or play embodied in masquerade, to liberate a sense of self and provide an alternate or evolving creative space both personal and communal. Autonomous Morris soaks up contemporary oral history and information, recording and storing as a ‘never forgetterer’. He listens to your aspirations, your pride, joy and anguish, acting as a receiver and archiver of memory.”
Smithson Plaza, originally designed by internationally-renowned architects Alison and Peter Smithson, and recently renamed in their honour, has a long history of showcasing public artworks of leading established and emerging artists, including Sir Eduardo Paolozzi. A dynamic contemporary arts programme was originally established in 1964 when the Economist magazine first occupied the complex, and was re-introduced by Tishman Speyer upon its re-opening in June this year, following the first phase of its renovation by architects DSDHA.
As well as the renovated Smithson Plaza, which now boasts a pocket park, Tishman Speyer has delivered 22,000 sq. ft of newly refurbished office space across six upper floors of Smithson Tower, securing exceptional rents for what is now perceived to be the premium building in St James’s. In addition to the office floors which offer 360-degree, unobstructed panoramic views of the city, Smithson Tower also contains retail and gallery spaces which are currently being leased.
A 4,600 sq ft gallery space, accessible from both Bury Street and Ryder Street, sits at the heart of the burgeoning St James’s arts district, surrounded by world-class galleries such as White Cube, as well as leading cultural institutions including the Royal Academy of Arts and Christie’s auction house.
Dan Nicholson, Managing Director of Tishman Speyer UK, said: “The re-activation of the plaza was an integral part of our strategy to reposition Smithson Plaza as the best-in-class West End office destination in the heart of St James’s. We’re very pleased to welcome Zak Ové, who has created this sculpture specifically for Smithson Plaza, as part of the wider arts programme which has been a great success to date.”
To find out more information about The Smithson Plaza, please visit http://amodernisticon.com/ and for more information about Tishman Speyer, please visit http://www.tishmanspeyer.com/. Vigo Gallery’s information is here: www.vigogallery.com or #vigogallery
Notes to editors
For any press enquiries, images and interview requests for the Zak Ové installation at The Smithson plaza or Tishman Speyer, please contact Caro Communications on: 020 7713 9388
Charlotte Treadwell – email@example.com
Alicia Yau – firstname.lastname@example.org
For any press enquiries, images and interview requests for Zak Ové, please contact Ladbury Communications on: 020 8962 1680
Rebecca Ladbury – email@example.com
Danya Agababian – firstname.lastname@example.org
About The Smithson Plaza
Under Tishman Speyer’s stewardship, the estate is undergoing a substantial refurbishment by London-based architects DSDHA. The first phase of renovation works is now complete and consists of upgrading the buildings and the plaza to deliver a renewed destination and prime office space for St James’s while reconnecting with the Smithsons’ original design.
The former Economist Plaza, the last remaining building in London by iconic architects Alison and Peter Smithson, was originally home to The Economist Magazine which commissioned and occupied it for more than half a century. Completed in 1964, the Grade II*-listed Brutalist complex has been renamed ‘The Smithson Plaza' in honour of the original architects. A new lobby and a 1,500 sq ft café will welcome occupiers and visitors to the Smithson Tower at plaza level. Six newly renovated upper floors, totalling approximately 22,000 sq. ft have been delivered as part of the first phase; three of which have already been let to Pelham Capital on the 12th, 13th and 14th floor. At street level, the scheme will also create a new 4,600 sq ft gallery space with access to Bury Street and Ryder Street.
Tishman Speyer is one of the leading owners, developers, operators and fund managers of first-class real estate in the world. Since 1978, Tishman Speyer has acquired, developed and operated 403 assets with approximately 166 million square feet of commercial and residential space. The total value of Tishman Speyer’s current unrealised portfolio plus total sales volume on realised investments since inception is approximately US$87 billion in total value across the United States, Europe, Latin America and Asia. Signature assets include New York’s Rockefeller Center, São Paulo’s Torre Norte, Ventura Corporate Towers in Rio de Janeiro, and OpernTurm in Frankfurt. Tishman Speyer currently has projects in different stages of development in Brasilia, Boston, Chengdu, Frankfurt, Gurgaon, Hyderabad, Los Angeles, New York City, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, São Paulo, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Washington, DC.
Zak Ové is a London based multi-disciplinary artist working in film, sculpture and photography to reclaim old world mythologies in new world source materials and technologies. His fascination with the interplay between antiquity and the future is inspired by masking rituals and traditions of Trinidadian carnival that is itself rooted in a struggle for emancipation. Ové’s work is in celebration of the power of play, the juxtaposition of parody and sacred ritual and the blurring of edges between reality and fantasy, flesh and spirit. His use of non-traditional materials: copper, wood, Victoriana and other found materials, situates the work in the metropoles of Europe and the Americas where they merge and mutate into endless possibilities and unexpected identities.
Ové’s work is internationally acclaimed for breaking boundaries between class, race and religion, exploring themes of lost culture and African identity within the context of his cross pollinated Trinidadian British cultural background. Working with sculpture, film and photography, he uses new-world materials to pay tribute to both spiritual and artistic African identity.
In 2015 Ové was the first Caribbean artist to enter the British Museum’s permanent collection with his Moko Jumbie sculptures, currently on display in the Africa Galleries following their exhibition in the Grand Court. The Invisible Man and the Masque of Blackness, a powerful, group of forty identical sculptures was first shown at Somerset House for the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair in 2016, and is currently installed outside City Hall on San Francisco’s Civic Plaza from where it is anticipated to travel to other institutions. The installation has also been exhibited at Yorkshire Sculpture Park and has recently opened at Roche Court Sculpture Park.
In summer 2019, Ové will be curating an exhibition called ‘Dreaming the Diaspora” at Somerset House, showcasing a collection of works by artists from a multicultural, multi-ethnic background. The exhibition will be intertwined with Ové’s own experiences and the history of those who grew up in his father’s pioneering Windrush generation.
Encounter Contemporary has been appointed by Tishman Speyer to curate and manage The Smithson Plaza’s art program.
Founded in 2013 by Alexander Caspari and Jordan Harris, Encounter Contemporary is a curatorial platform, dealership and contemporary art consultancy. The company focuses on promoting a diverse and innovative group of established and emerging contemporary artists who are transforming the way art is made and presented. It runs an international ‘moving’ exhibition program curating academically rigorous, ambitious and immersive shows. Working closely with both long standing and new clients on an ongoing basis it confidently sources only the best artworks from our trusted international network of artists, art professionals and private collections.
Vigo represents emerging and established international artists, curating shows in both the public and private arenas. It advises several residencies and enjoy good relations with many Museums and Foundations from the TATE to the British Museum, MOMA, The Sharjah Art Foundation, The Metropolitan Museum and the Saatchi Gallery, and has placed more than twenty historic and contemporary works into the collections of prominent museums over the past three years.
Vigo has a particular interest in the African diaspora (Ibrahim El Salahi and Zak Ové) and African American artists (Derrick Adams, Leonardo Drew) although the programme is truly international working with artists and estates from Belgium, Russia, America and Japan alongside its British contingent.
In addition to its contemporary focus and primary programme, the gallery also shines light on historically significant yet often undervalued artists with strong museum and curatorial followings.
Notable exhibitions are listed on its website and include: Bram Bogart, Derrick Adams, Leonardo Drew, Ibrahim El Salahi, Boyle Family, Marcus Harvey, Gavin Turk, Masaaki Yamada, Kadar Brock, Nika Neelova and Daniel Crews-Chubb
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