In an accelerating landscape, fresh ways of understanding the world become increasingly important. Bloomberg New Contemporaries, an annual exhibition providing a platform for recent fine art graduates, offers insight into the creative practices endeavouring to make sense of the modern experience. As Jane Hayes Greenwood, Director of art gallery Block 336, notes: “The show is playful, clever and thought-provoking, whilst being underpinned by theoretical and critical debate.”
The scheme foregrounds 47 practitioners grappling with vital current issues, including the progressively diminishing gap between truth and fiction. The featured photograph is captured by Melissa Magnuson, whose work interweaves fragments of stories; memories, facts, fiction and half-truths merge to build an uncanny, alternate version of events. The focus of the artist’s oeuvre lies within the important dialogues she opens with communities, engaging with global concepts of landscape, power and identity whilst creating meaningful personal connections through active engagement. In a similar way, Michaela Yearwood-Dan investigates life as young, second generation Black British woman. By narrating the contrast between the stigmatised realities of everyday life with the fabrications projected onto her, the artist offers dialogues between two worlds – the West Indies and London.
Notions of communication also run through the collection. A film by Adam Castle and Ed Twaddles, To Me You Mean The Most, examines the pervasive influence of popular culture on society’s quotidian behaviours. Inhabiting a space between rehearsal, theatrical performance and sitcom, the piece features two characters repeating familiar clichés. Thick with commercial gloss, it emphasises the staged nature of everyday interactions. James Laycock’s videos also draw on ideas of performance, using television programmes, “kitchen sink” dramas and post-war theatre to address issues surrounding class, national identity and religion.
Following its launch at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, and subsequent show at BALTIC 39, Newcastle, the show comes to Block 336, London, offering a unique nationwide view inside UK art schools. Since its conception in 1949, the initiative has featured influential figures such as Gillian Wearing, Tacita Dean, Damien Hirst, Mona Hatoum, Chris Ofili and Rebecca Warren.
Until 3 March. Find out more: www.newcontemporaries.org.uk
1. Melissa Magnuson, Greenville, Mississippi, 2016. Image courtesy of the artist and New Contemporaries