Curated by James Lavelle, the man who spawned the influential Mo’Wax record label in the 90s, Daydreaming with Stanley Kubrick sees some of the most exciting artists around today be given free reign to interpret and explore the work of the man who brought us Dr Strangelove, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket and 2001: A Space Odyssey. The result is a full on sensory experience that takes you from trippy sci-fi visuals to laugh-out-loud pop art, via a room-sized anti-nuke statement, and a giant concrete cock.
It’s a little disappointing that in an entire gallery exhibition themed around the life and work of the late, great Stanley Kubrick there is not one cat to be found. Of the 60 or so artists who contributed to the exhibition, you would have thought at least one of them would have picked on Kubrick’s feline fascination and run with the theme. But no…
What we do get however are a stuffed snake, over-sized teddy bears sporting heart-shaped ‘Lolita’ sunglasses and Clockwork Orange codpieces, a giant concrete phallus, and Joanna Lumley dressed in full 18th Century costume, giant wig and all.
Lavelle and his co-curator James Putnam have turned a section of Somerset House into a series of eery corridors and claustrophobic rooms and then dug deep into their little black book of creative chums who have been tasked with filling those spaces with their own individual interpretations of Kubrick’s rather intimidating filmography.
Some have chosen to take a personal approach to the brief, like Samantha Morton’s short film which tells the semi-autobiographical story of a young girl running away to an empty cinema to watch 2001: A Space Odyssey with wide-eyed confusion and amazement.
Others have chosen to peak behind the scenes to Kubrick’s methods, tools and locations. Nancy Fouts has taken a vintage camera Kubrick was fond of and made it ‘breathe’ in a very disconcerting way. While Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard have taken 114 analogue radio sets, each broadcasting an individual voice performing the same eery classical piece Kubrick used for both Clockwork Orange and The Shining, and then crammed them all into a small, carefully crafted space. The overall effect is simultaneously beautiful and more than a little creepy.
A few brave souls have approached Kubrick’s back catalogue head on, some more explicitly than others. The aforementioned stuffed snake makes a star appearance in Polly Morgan’s ‘Metanoia’ which takes the bulging codpieces of A Clockwork Orange and transforms them into a triangular concrete block stuffed with dead serpent.
Toby Dye’s contribution is a little more straightforward in its approach, but incredibly complex in its execution. ‘Corridors’ is made up of four looping films projected onto the walls of a single perfectly square room. Each film features a different character inspired by an iconic Kubrick protagonist making their way down an endless hospital corridor. Clever editing and seamless looping allows the stories to occasionally overlap as the characters stumble into each others storylines before heading back to their individual walls.
As you stand there in the middle of all this, the four characters endlessly bearing down on you in one, infinite tracking shot, it’s the closest you’ll ever get to appearing in a Stanley Kubrick movie.
James Lavelle has said that his aim with this exhibition is to modernise Kubrick’s legacy, to make people feel the same excitement and sense of awe that he felt when he first watched a bootleg VHS copy of the banned A Clockwork Orange as an impressionable teenager. Apart from the criminal lack of cats, you’d have to say he’s succeeded on all counts.
To make up for the lack of cats, click here to buy the current issue of PUSS PUSS Magazine that features an article by Kubrick’s long standing assistant Emilio D’Alessandro who shares a few stories about the director’s love for all things feline.
The exhibition runs from 6 July – 24 August 2016