3/3/2016 – 2/5/2016
To mark the opening of the new exhibition Venturing Beyond: Graffiti and the Everyday Utopias of the Street, this week Italian artist Filippo Minelli conducted numerous smoke performances within the architecturally stunning Edmond J Safra Fountain Court at Somerset House.
At 1.30pm on Thursday, Minelli set off the colourful smoke bombs before joining the surprisingly small audience to watch the spectacle through the lens of his camera.
Like a scene from a Fragonard painting, clouds of colour billowed swiftly through the air, momentarily blending with the afternoon sun before making their way towards the River Thames.
“Perfect Instagram material,” said a loud voice behind me, bubbling with sarcasm. “Just enjoy the moment!”
A fair, if not tired, point when applied to most forms of live art. However, considering the fact that, right in front of us, the artist himself was documenting the performance on his own camera in order to create (probably) even more beautiful work, I think those of us watching from behind our smartphones could be excused (…on this occasion).
Following the performance, most employed people returned to their desks at work, ready to relay their cultural afternoon to their colleagues. The rest of us made our way to the exhibition itself, which, part of ‘UTOPIA 2016: A Year of Imagination and Possibility’, explores “unsanctioned public art – or graffiti – as an intrinsically utopian practice”.
Minelli’s five works within the exhibition (entitled “The Only Emergency is the Absence of Emergency”) are included alongside the work of 16 other graffiti artists from across the globe. Whilst the exhibition itself may not be quite as mesmerising or – “Instagrammable” – as the smoke performances, it is definitely worth a visit, especially for those interested in the mysterious and transgressive world of street art.
Venturing Beyond has been curated and produced by the arts organisation A(by) P in collaboration with Somerset House.