Upon our invitation by CIRCA to collaborate in activating the Piccadilly Lights, we've co-commissioned LA-based interdisciplinary filmmaker Cauleen Smith. We've developed a curatorial programme bringing our collective ethos and experimental methodology to Europe’s largest public screen. At a time when gathering and mobility is hyper-regulated, public space is a more meaningful scenario than ever. Perhaps, for that reason, this initiative claims to imprint subjectivity and our inner worlds in such space, expanding The Showroom’s advocacy for transdisciplinarity and togetherness through art, education and community.
This project takes as its starting point CIRCA’s platform as setting as an aesthetic disruption aiming to respond to current issues of our time. By using visuality as a paradigmatic signifier for both image and sound, Smith's work explores both the limits and possibilities of discourse, its imagery, its sonic nature and its embodiment through both public and digital space. Our online platforms serve as a space for filling in the voids, turning the volume up and dynamic storytelling. Here you can dive into the creative process and research archives that have produced the work, revealing a further radical narrative full enunciated.
The CIRCA website will also be transformed into an extraordinary archive of past projects from the artist's trajectory, references from her ongoing research and allusions to her revolutionary imaginary, constituting a virtual mid-career survey. We welcome both local audiences standing in Piccadilly and global participant tuned in online to engage with both the scattered snippets of COVID MANIFESTO and the long form. By accessing web content persistently, you can generate conditions of possibility. The collaborative project is a call for a proposal of virtual proximity and distance, in which a series of new social relations to content and the meaning of place are entirely reshaped. It is a timely narrative providing insight into an individual’s intimate experience as shared through social media— a form of storytelling that holds a mirror up to society, one daily pronouncement at a time.
CIRCA's daily calendar is curated in collaboration by The Showroom Assistant Curator Katherine Finerty and CIRCA's Tony Tremlett – HERE
Cauleen Smith's works compile her Instagram series, COVID MANIFESTO, which the interdisciplinary California artist initiated a couple of weeks after the United States went into lockdown. From the 13th April 2020 onwards, her hand-drawn COVID MANIFESTO points have followed both the quotidian reality of her practice in the studio and the strangeness of being out of the classroom during the academic year. Her frustrations, reflections and inspirations resonate with the eventful episodes of real life, namely, the turmoil and aftermaths of the central government management of the pandemic, the assassination of George Floyd, and the collective action claiming the end of police brutality across the globe.
Cauleen will be rewriting and revealing each point of the Manifesto throughout the duration of November. In a sort of 'living' still life, the artist's desk will be the tableau, in which personal items, remnants of daily rituals, and key references to her practice will accumulate, appear and disappear. COVID MANIFESTO consists of 23 pronouncements. The project will unfold in a sequence, a crescendo, that will be punctuated by 7 intermissions selected from Smith’s existing works. Over the month, the personal and poetic, the eventful and now historical, will feature as Smith responds to Covid-19 and its multiple aftermaths.
Created by artist Josef O’Connor, CIRCA commissions a different artist each month to present new ideas that consider our world circa 2020. Each artist is invited to create a new work for Europe’s largest screen that offers an innovative and exciting way for London to engage with art, both outside and at home, in a safe and socially distanced way.
Visitors to Piccadilly Circus will be able to connect their headphones to circa.art and receive a fully immersive audio-visual experience. The website will also stream the artwork every evening (20:20 BST/GMT). Exhibiting artists are invited to upload supporting content such as images, text and videos throughout the month, to expand on their ideas and engage a wider digital community from around the world.
'We are honoured to be sharing the CIRCA platform this month with Elvira Dyangani Ose and The Showroom. History is being written both on and off the Piccadilly screen this November, with Cauleen Smith’s COVID MANIFESTO providing an intimate underscore to a month which will undoubtedly define our collective future for years to come..'
– Josef O’Connor