Art 2012

12 December, 2011
by: Tom Jeffreys

What should we expect from the London art scene in 2012? Tom Jeffreys asks those best placed to know.

Crystal Ball

The end of one year means, rather inevitably, that it’s time to look forward to the start of another. And what better way to do so than by speculating wildly about what it might bring? We’ve asked a host of London art world luminaries what they foresee for 2012, and the results make genuinely fascinating reading. There’s interesting areas of overlap, some dramatic differences of opinion, and a healthy dollop of self-promotion.

2012’s big stories, for better or for worse, will include: Tate’s relationship with BP; Damien Hirst; interdisciplinary collaboration; art as activism; the gentrification of Peckham; and, of course, the Olympics (plus accompanying cultural goings-on). You read it all here first, folks.

Justin Hammond

Curator and author of The Catlin Guide 2012: New Artists in the UK

Justin Hammond

My turf accountant would snigger, but I reckon I’ve got a real knack for this prediction lark. Twelve months ago I suggested the London art scene was in for a flurry of elaborate fiction, false narratives and dodgy back-stories. And whaddaya know? Everyone went nuts for Ryan Gander’s Locked Room Scenario (while everyone else just went nuts and smashed up the nearest chippy). I called that too. Admittedly all that stuff about Bucks Fizz was wide of the mark, but moving on…..

Loads of new galleries opened this year – some are even quite good – but with over 200 art spaces operating in London, the sheer volume of contemporary art can be daunting. So here’s a dual-pronged recommendation to point you in the right direction: jump on an Art Licks tour and demand to be taken to the Bun House on Peckham High Street (before the gallery’s three-year stint comes to a close at the end of January). It’s one of my fave spots and well worth crossing the river for.

Check out Daniel Rapley’s forthcoming solo show at PayneShurvell and – if you fancy a day-trip – Tom Howse at Down Stairs, a 6,000 square foot gallery space at Great Brampton House in Herefordshire. It’s ace. Ask nicely and the gallery manager might even collect you from the train station. If you’re too lazy to go west you can still see Tom’s paintings as part of The Catlin Guide 2012 launch show at the London Art Fair from January 18th.

Julia Vogl‘s work has the potential to engage a wide audience – far beyond the London art scene – so look out for HOME, a large-scale installation to coincide with the Olympics. Speaking of which, I’ve just got 5-2 on Usain Bolt to beat the 100 metre world record. Watch this space.

Sarah Maple

Sarah Maple

2012 will be the year of Damien Hirst. I did hear a rumour there will be 22 Hirst exhibitions around the world in 2012. I think this may have been a dream or someone telling me a joke that I clearly didn’t get. “REALLY??” I would say aghast, whilst onlookers chuckle. It wouldn’t be the first time.

Anyhow, my predictions or things that I want to do well: Stella Vine has an exhibition at Vegas Gallery in January which I’m so excited about. It’s been five years since her last solo show, so really interested to see her next body of work. Also, Miriam Elia: after her debut solo show ‘I fell in love with a conceptual artist and it was totally meaningless’ this year, I see great things for Miriam. Her book ‘The Diary of Edward the Hamster’ will be out next year, published by MacMillan. Other artists I feel will go from strength to strength are Richie Culver, Hayden Kays (solo show at Cob Gallery early next year) and Helen Benigson. I’m also loving a performance poet Sabrina Mahfouz, How it Ended theatre company and fantastic band/pop sensation My Tiger My Timing.

Bring on 2012. Got a feeling that Olympics will be pretty big too.

Kevin Smith
PlatformCo-Editor of Not If But When – Culture Beyond Oil

Kevin Smith

2012 is a year when the simmering tensions on oil sponsorship of the arts are finally brought to a head. At the Tate Members AGM in December, Nick Serota announced that a decision about the controversial BP-Tate relationship was going to be made by the Tate trustees ‘quite soon’. That decision is going to have a big impact on feisty art-intervention groups like Liberate Tate who might end up doing themselves out of a job. They may possibly need to start rebranding exercises and come up with a catchy new name which rhymes with ‘South Bank Centre’ and ‘Shell’.

In relation to the issue, the Tate a Tate audio tour is being released by the end of winter, a three-piece, site-specific sound work complicating the presence of BP within Tate Modern, Tate Britain and the boat journey between the two. Featuring artists including Mark McGowan and Ansuman Biswas, the tour ranges from the conceptual to the pedagogical while weaving in a number of different voices and locations, and conceptually amounts to an audio occupation of the gallery spaces.

 Julie Lomax
London Director, Visual Arts at Arts Council England

Julie Lomax

There will be a lot of cultural noise in 2012, starting with the 200th celebrations of Dickens’ life and work, continuing with the celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and building into a huge deafening crescendo with the Olympics and the 2012 Festival.

My pick of the 2012 Festival is Artangel’s Bedroom for London, a space where individual artists, poets, philosophers, musicians, theorists, scientists, and Londoners can pitch up for the night or day and are encouraged to record their thoughts. Exciting, yes! Elsewhere, Bruce Nauman will be in town, and a revitalised ICA has commissioned no less than 100 artists to respond to his work. This is bound to be a prominent moment in the institution’s history.

Out of the Silver Jubilee rose the phoenix of punk DIY culture and this spirit is evident in Auto-Italia’s programming and artist-run, donated premises, with a space to congregate in and take part in live performance that is broadcast digitally. The recent programme, Bodies Assembling, has been interesting, fun and an anarchic counterfoil to the organised and polished. No programme as yet for 2012, but who cares! Watch this space and take part in it, you would be a fool to miss Auto-Italia.

Alex Chappel, David C West, Larry McGinity
Decima Gallery

Decima Gallery

Hot on the heels of the success of our ground-breaking new concept launched in the past year, Art Which is Also a Disco, we believe that the multidisciplinary show will become all the more prevalent in 2012. Art shows in general will abandon their designer mustiness and cold comfort chic to reach out on a more emotional and immediate level. Already gaining ground alongside us are the Hackney-based Dead Dolls Club, who combine food with art, Ashley Bailey, who successfully fuses performance art with burlesque, and the Dead Pets Society, whose inimitable music / art / karaoke / video / dress-up cross-over events are gonna be ever more difficult to miss in 2012. And let’s not forget the fantastic Unit 24 Gallery in SE1 who combine art with dry cleaning!

Speaking of galleries, get off the beaten track. There is an interesting enclave brewing off Old Bethnal Green Road, where VegasCarter Presents andUnion Gallery, all with excellent programmes, have all moved. Keep an eye on Ingrid Z’s brilliant Residence gallery and South London’s Man&Eve, who represent Pulse Miami prize-winner Larissa Nowicki. Also look out for Alex Fear, Simon Ould, Stephen Gill and Liam Scully.

Back East, and a consortium of bankers in Winnebagos will emerge as the Occupy Hackney Wick movement, and they’ll set up their first camp on White Post Lane, protesting against the level of sheer mediocrity generated by the great unwashed. Just around the corner, London gets taken over by a curious breed of flag-waving meatheads known as athletes, and causes the art world to take an early holiday. The Mass Exodus to As Far Away as Possible movement will be born. Head for LA before it sinks/burns down. The city of angels is clearly emerging as the most dynamic art city of the hour.

Charles Thomson 
Artist and Co-founder of The Stuckists

Charles Thomson

Damien Hirst’s retrospective (sponsored by the Qatar Museums authority), opening on 4 April at Tate Modern, will give the critics who mistakenly damned his profound and original figurative paintings the opportunity to mistakenly laud his superficial and derivative vitrines, spots and spins (yet again).

On 22 March, Edward Lucie-Smith will reinforce his position as a leading art world heretic by opening Damien Who? (not sponsored by the Qatar Museums Authority) at the Bermondsey Art Space. A major part of the show will feature Stuckist artists, highlighting his favourites, Jasmine Maddock andJoe Machine.

Elsewhere, highest ever auction records will be reached for the worst ever artworks seen at auction, thanks to bids by agents and galleries representing the auctioned artists. Next year’s Turner Prize will be even more forgettable than this year’s and will be praised as one of the best yet. The Tate willabandon oil sponsorship. It will be announced that Sir Nicholas Serota is a spell check error and it was really St. Nicholas Serota all along.

Crystal Bennes
Critic, curator, and director of SALON (LONDON)

Crystal Bennes

2011 was the year I realised that I am absolutely rubbish at making art predictions. Yet here I am again! So here’s to 2012, when London will become the first city in history to host the Olympics three times, the US will probably elect a nutjob Republican president, and the astrophysicists at CERN may finally find the elusive Higgs Boson.

As for art, I predict a continuation of the same uninspired dullness from the big galleries. A Damien Hirst retrospective at Tate Modern (yawn); David Hockney doodling on iPads at the Royal Academy (kill me now); and total hit and miss season from the Whitechapel.

I think we’ll start to see more interdisciplinary collaboration with shows large and small, which, since I’ve been banging on about it for three years, is quite refreshing. One surprising example could be the National Gallery‘s 2012 Titan exhibition. With new commissions across art, ballet and poetry (all inspired by Titian and Ovid) it’s perhaps a little complicated, but far more thoughtful, experimental and ambitious than most stuff coming out of London’s biggest museums.

But if I was a betting kind of girl, I’d put all my cash on the ever-brilliantWellcome Collection (again). Their major show, opening next spring, is all about BRAINS (swoon)!

Finally, I predict that artist statements and exhibition press releases won’t get one lick better (they certainly didn’t last year). But instead of complaining, I’m launching a consultancy service: for a nominal fee, I’ll help you write your press release or artist statement to read as if a human being wrote it instead of a bollocks artspeak generator. Making predictions come true since 1981.

Holly Willats
Director, Art Licks

Holly Willats

2012? My first guess is that the Olympics will cause chaos in London and no one will be able to communicate from the stadium as Anish Kapoor’s towerwill interfere with all phone signals. Once over, the Arts Council can resume normal service and forget about the ‘Cultural Olympiad’ that is sucking up a significant amount of their funding.

In 2012 there will be no recession! Oh, if only… Art will become more political. I’m surprised it hasn’t reacted quicker this year, but let’s hope the momentum builds up for some exciting reactions and statements through work in 2012. Art education is going to completely change, and more artist-led initiatives will be set up.

Finally, if I could make a change to something I know will happen in 2012, I would wish that The Bun House pub in Peckham would stay standing. At the moment, it is due for demolition early in the year, which will see the end of the Bun House Project Space – a small gallery in a room at the back of the pub, and one of my favourites in Peckham. It’s a great shame that this pub will be knocked down to make way for flats. Is this another sign of a gentrified Peckham?

Ben Street, Karl England
Founders, Sluice Art Fair

Sluice Art Fair

This year, there have been real signs of positive change in the way artists, projects and curators mobilise themselves. With even Charles Saatchi bemoaning the intellectual vacuity and lack of imagination in the upper echelons of the art world, it seems appropriate that the 99% should take a leaf out of the Occupy movement’s book and think horizontally, not vertically. This means greater cross-communication, interplay and collaboration, but it also means a refusal to preach to the choir. Cut the yacht’s moorings and watch it slowly drift off into the Adriatic, and as the sounds of popping corks and chinking glasses fades away, let’s seek new ways to make, show and discuss art, with an emphasis on communication and clarity.

It’s time that art got back its rhetorical power, sought new and meaningful relationships with materiality, and found ways of reaching beyond itself. This means having an awareness of parameters (art can’t be anything you like; who told you that?) so they can be tested: we’ve already seen that in Christoph Buchel’s Piccadilly Community Centre and in the work of countless project spaces across the UK and abroad. Whether 2012 heralds a change of direction or not three small artist run spaces that deserve to have higher profiles are: Supplement GalleryBokship, and Fort.

Mark Sheerin

Mark Sheerin

Thanks to a sporting event, the eyes of the world will be on the London in 2012. The converse of this is that the eyes of London may turn squarely in the direction of its metropolitan navel. Indeed the year’s most anticipated shows – Hockney, Hirst, Picasso (in Britain) – are all a bit insular on the face of it.

At the same time, as funding cuts kick in around the UK, most galleries will be looking to shave monies off their running costs. And this could prove a good thing for homegrown talent. Ikon in Birmingham, for example, has been putting on quality shows by local artists such as John Salt, Stuart Whipps, and John Myers. This could be a blueprint for regional spaces working with tighter budgets.

So in short, 2012 will see London implode, and the regions explode. Possibly.

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