The world premiere of three new immersive, interactive ‘solid light’ installations by Anthony McCall look set to provide a shining start to 2018’s cultural calendar, as part of a major survey of the artist’s work at The Hepworth, Wakefield. Using only projected light and thin mist, they exist almost as ethereal sculptures, which change and evolve over the course of each day, following a series of precisely mapped repeated sequences.
The British born, New York based artist straddles the space between cinema, sculpture and drawing. He began his career in the 1970s making outdoor performances related to the Expanded Cinema and Structural Film explorations of the London Filmmakers Cooperative. Often using darkened spaces, ambient dust and cigarette smoke to create the illusion of volume, these ‘ground breaking’ early works had a significant impact on the New York art scene at the time, and will be restaged during a special weekend of activity and performance at The Hepworth during the run of the exhibition.
Much of McCall’s output deliberately challenges the passivity of the conventional viewing experience (both in terms of art, but also, particularly, in relation to cinema), and visitors will be actively encouraged to pass in, out and around each of the ‘pure sculptures’, as active participants in the work. Limbs intersecting light beams, and movement disturbing currents of smoke. As such, each piece brings concentrated attention to the physical conditions of the present, rather than referencing any form of external ‘content’.
A key part of the retrospective will focus on the role of drawing in McCall’s practice, with two galleries devoted to a survey of his graphic works. Drawing has long played a vital part in helping McCall to imagine and conceptualise three-dimensional form, and explore temporal structure. The artist withdrew from his artistic practice at the end of the 1970s to establish a successful graphic design studio, only then to re-emerge in the 2000s in a puff of haze and digital projection.
Several of the new pieces within the exhibition have been developed specifically in response to The Hepworth’s stunning architecture, designed by the acclaimed David Chipperfield Architects. Thus, Solid Light Works not only presents a unique opportunity to experience and interact with McCall’s work up-close, but also within a setting that the artist describes as “unusually sympathetic” to his installations. With this in mind, Anthony McCall: Solid Light Works should make for an unmissable experience, and exciting start to the new year.