Presented by UNKLE and Mo’Wax-founder James Lavelle (who has curated the show with James Putnam), Daydreaming with Stanley Kubrick assembles 50 works by a range of artists and filmmakers, actors and musicians.
In a very deliberate way, the exhibition finds space for all the constituent parts of Kubrick’s filmmaking; so there are pieces that look like set design, soundtracks that float around the rooms and corridors, alongside works that take a single visual influence from the director’s art as their starting point.
Reflecting the wide appeal of his films and the impact his command of image-making has had on our visual culture, Kubrick’s hand comes through in a number of different ways.
At top of post: PYRE by Stuart Haygarth, a glowing tower of electric fires – with reference to The Shining – at Daydreaming with Stanley Kubrick in partnership with Canon at Somerset House in London. Above: Works by artists Philip Castle and Paul Insect. Photos: Peter Macdiarmid/LNP
In Consolus-Full of Hope and Full of Fear by artists James Lavelle and John Isaacs featuring Azzi Glasser. Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/LNP
Some artists have naturally taken his films as inspiration, calling up specific scenes or characters from some of his most celebrated projects. There are pieces based on the monolith and the ‘stargate’ sequence from 2001: A Space Odyssey, for example, or the use of pattern and symmetry in The Shining. Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin’s The Shining Carpet (WT) comes straight from the Overlook Hotel and occupies an entire corridor of the show space.
Many of Kubrick’s more familiar visual motifs are also explored. Eyes are prevalent, from the cog-like eyelashes worn by Alex in A Clockwork Orange (a device used across the comms material created for the show by Marwan Kaabour at Barnbrook) and Koen Vanmechelen’s Encounter – CCP film, to the eye of Kubrick’s own camera – a exact replica of which comes alive in Nancy Fouts’ ‘breathing’ version.
There are singular references to objects from the films, too. One of the most potent is Polly Morgan’s surrealist take on the codpieces worn by Alex’s droogs that takes the form of a snake wedged tightly in a concrete triangle. Stuart Haygarth’s PYRE takes a single fireplace from The Shining and multiplies it into a mountain of heat.
A visitor views Beyond the Infinite, 2016 by artist Doug Foster. Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/LNP
The Second Law by Paul Fryer, a realistic waxwork figure depicting Stanley Kubrick in a glass fronted freezer covered in ice and snow in reference to the final scene of The Shining. Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/LNP
Other artists have focused in on the director himself. Paul Fryer’s lifelike waxwork of Kubrick in an upright freezer is a nod to the fate of Jack Torrance in the closing scenes of The Shining, while Chris Levine’s intriguing light work, Mr Kubrick is Looking, reveals a fleeting image of the director’s ghost-like face which can only be detected in the viewer’s peripheral vision.
While Samantha Morton and Douglas Hart’s film, Anywhere Out of This World, evokes the impact that 2001 had on the young would-be actress, even projects that Kubrick didn’t get around to making serve as an influence. Jane and Louise Wilson’s contribution to the show is a video piece that uses stills of Johanna ter Steege, the leading actress that the director had in mind for his unrealised film, Aryan Papers.
Twilight by artist Doug Aitken is reflected in infinity mirrors. Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/LNP
Detail of Requiem for 114 radios by artists Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard. Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/LNP
With Lavelle at the helm, music also features heavily throughout the show and the way sounds seep in and out of the rooms adds an eerie quality. At the show’s entrance, a painting of Kubrick in the garden of his Hertfordshire home by his widow Christiane is bathed in the sound of a choral Dies Irae floating in from an adjoining space.
Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard’s Requiem for 114 Radios is one of the show’s stand-out pieces and features a choir of voices broadcasting from banks of humming analogue radio equipment (Kubrick used Dies Irae, the Catholic Requiem Mass, in both The Shining and A Clockwork Orange).
Inevitably, the works that are given a room to themselves seem to hold more power here. In particular, Mat Collishaw’s piece in the first room, which consists of space helmet with a film playing inside of several chimps peering down the camera (and therefore looking out at us) has a totemic power. Only when the viewer moves around the case does the skull inside the helmet reveal itself more clearly.
There is also a wealth of immersive video art here, from the inner/outer space journey of Beyond the Infinite by Doug Foster to The Corridor by Toby Dye, a multi-projection film which accompanies the UNKLE track, Lonely Soul. (Lavelle had apparently successfully approached Kubrick to work on a video for the song in the late 1990s, while he was making Eyes Wide Shut, but the director died before it could be planned in more detail.)
The Corridor, 2016 – a multi-screen projection starring Joanna Lumley and Aidan Gillen. Photo credit: Peter Macdiarmid/LNP
The exhibition’s final room shows that the concerns raised in Kubrick’s 1964 film, Dr Strangelove, are still very much in the air, channeled here in the monochrome work of Peter Kennard. Images from the film and Kennard’s own striking protest graphics intermingle with business cards from a range of multinational corporations.
It’s a more sombre note to end on than the rest of the work in Dreaming with… would have us believe, but it suggests that beyond the complex visual language that Kubrick established, what also lives on is a questioning spirit that we can take influence from – and which now feels more important than ever to retain.
Daydreaming with Stanley Kubrick is at Somerset House in London from July 6 until August 24. See daydreamingwith.com and somersethouse.org.uk.
Trident; A Strange Love, 2013-2016 by artist Peter Kennard juxtaposes images taken from Dr Strangelove with photographs of contemporary world leaders. Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/LNP
Contributing artists in include Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin / Carl Craig / Charlotte Colbert / Chris Levine / Christiane Kubrick / David Nicholson / Dexter Navy / Doug Foster / Doug Aitken / Futura / Gavin Turk / Harland Miller / Haroon Mirza & Anish Kapoor / Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard / Invader / Jamie Shovlin / Jane & Louise Wilson / Jason Shulman / Jocelyn Pook / John Isaacs & James Lavelle with Azzi Glasser / Jonas Burgert / Joseph Kosuth / Julian Rosefeldt / Keaton Henson / Koen Vanmechelen / Marc Quinn / Mark Karasick / Mat Chivers / Mat Collishaw / Max Richter / Michael Nyman / Mick Jones / Nancy Fouts / Nathan Coley / Norbert Schoerner / Paul Fryer / Paul Insect / Peter Kennard / Philip Castle / Philip Shepherd / Pink Twins / Polly Morgan / Rachel Howard / Rut Blees Luxemburg / Samantha Morton & Douglas Hart / Sarah Lucas/ Seamus Farrell / Stuart Haygarth / Thomas Bangalter / Toby Dye / Warren du Preez & Nick Thornton Jones
The Shining Carpet (WT) by Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin lines the floors of the exhibition. Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/LNP
Read more here:: Daydreaming with Stanley Kubrick