Excerpt of an NEWS: 21 Sep 2012/ by: MICHAELA NETTELL Wild New Territories We report from the opening of this ambitious curatorial project, which explores the complex and often problematic relationship between nature and culture.
As guests congregate under glistening chandeliers and exquisite canapés are handed round, a group of pinafored women enter the wood-panelled function room at Canada House. They sit in a row and silently, industriously begin to paint small watercolour clouds. An elaborately costumed Pearly Queen looks on, talking and laughing with the audience.
“It’s fantastic!” she tells me. “The project is all about bringing communities back together, re-connecting with the history of our manor.” Diane Gould (HRH The Pearly Princess of St Pancras) is taking part in artist collective foreign investment‘s performance work Sky Mile. The project speculates on the value of sky above Diane’s ‘manor’ – the Kings Cross area of London, which has been subject to rapid urban development and privatisation over the last two decades. Foreign investment are proposing the sale of ‘sky shares’, sections of sky within a half-mile radius of Kings Cross station, their value determined in accordance with local property prices.
The watercolour paintings, authenticated and stamped by Diane, serve as certificates of the sale transactions. A Cockney sing-along (“Dad’ll be playing the spoons!”) will accompany part two of foreign investment’s performance the following day, and a percentage of proceeds from any share sales will go to a local charity supported by the Pearlies.
Sky Mile forms part of the ambitious Wild New Territories project, which aims to engage audiences in London, Vancouver and Berlin in the complex and often problematic relationship between nature and culture. The Opening Ceremony at the Canadian High Commission in Trafalgar Square marked the beginning of concurrent three-month exhibitions at Camley Street Natural Park and the Foundling Museum. Works then travel to Canada and Germany. In his opening address curator Ron den Daas described the project as an exercise in “cross-cultural understanding, a conversation between friends that explores environmental and societal issues through the lens of contemporary art.”
As foreign investment’s performance continued at one end of the room, talks by representatives of the London Wildlife Trust, the Linnean Society and the Natural History Museum were given at the other, as well as presentations by some of the Wild New Territories artists.
I speak to artist Gordon Cheung about artworks as warning signs and the role of the artist in telling cautionary tales. “Artists try and face what might be seen as monstrous aspects of civilisation,” he says. “Only by facing these things can change be affected.”
” The work of foreign investment could be considered from two points of view: from that of new public art and from that of hybrid culture. It can be said that the group is dealing with the socio – economic and political issues in the environment they live in, yet their questioning is chiefly economical; indeed, they are examining the social and cultural formations and transformation caused by economic phenomena at micro-and macro level with their work, they wish to raise an awareness for the conditions we live in and formulate invitations to contribute to the (re)formation of this environment.” BERAL MADRA, Arredamento ___________________________________________________________________________________________
The works in the exhibition refer to eminently important political issues of today as well as focus through the various strategies of artistic presentation on the relations among artwork, institution and audience. In this respect, the group foreign investment is outstanding. MAREN LUEBBKE, Camera Austria