A new work by the artist Gavin Turk has opened at Somerset House in London. This cold cathode artwork, displays the median population of the world at the time of its initial illumination. The sign is intended by the artist as ‘a symbolic threshold: inviting visitors and observers to transcend through a fixed point in time as they pass underneath it into the building’s New Wing’.
Turk describes the installation as an artwork which bears ‘testimony to each individual’s solitude, power, and transient existence as part of an unimaginably expansive whole.’ Somerset House, a building designed to display and house British colonial power in the 18th and 19th centuries, where the fiscal fruits of country and empire were accounted and the population of Britain were counted.
Turk was in the news recently after Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge was welcomed by the artist to Turner Contemporary, whose self-portrait is on display, as part of the new exhibition ‘Self: Image and Identity’. The current exhibition explores a world where ‘selfies’ have become everyday expressions and ‘Britishness’ is being redefined, what is the role of self-portraiture and how has it shifted through the history of art to the present day.
The artist became famous early in his career after tutors at the Royal College of Art refused to present Gavin Turk with his postgraduate degree in 1991, a decision based on his graduation exhibition. Titled Cave, it consisted of a whitewashed studio space, containing a blue heritage plaque commemorating his own presence as a sculptor, stating “Gavin Turk worked here, 1989-1991”. This bestowed some instant notoriety on Turk, who was subsequently collected by Charles Saatchi.
The installation of Now marks the opening of Somerset House’s New Wing, which has recently opened its doors to the public for the very first time in over 150 years.
Gavin Turk features in our Top Ten Laughable Works Of Art here
Photo: P A Black © Artlyst 2015 all rights reserved