Exploring the city around us can take a back seat when we switch into London commuter mode and charge head down to our destination, with headphones on to drown out the world around us.
This exhibition is all about the changing world that surrounds us, and focuses on artists who draw this constant metamorphosis to our attention. It contains film screenings, performances and online works, but at its heart are the work of five artists on display at the ICA galleries.
Koki Tanaka has filmed people’s accounts of the London riots but also asked them to retrace the steps they took as they walked home that day. The accounts filled with fear contrast with a peaceful video of strolling through quiet London streets — a reminder of how a city transforms in times of crisis.
Paulo Nazareth walked across Brazil and Africa over the course of five years and his collection of objects is strewn across the gallery floor, from water bottle labels to a collection of flyers all collected for seemingly random reasons.
The two strongest works are upstairs. Cypren Gaillard has filmed the current state of Iraq contrasting the disrepair of the country with its historic importance. The infectious song Babylon by David Gray plays on a loop — the easy listening music providing a stark contrast and a loose historic reference to the ruins on screen.
Rossella Biscotti ups the tension by laying out waste material from a decommissioned nuclear plant on the gallery floor. We know it’s safe as it’s on display, but visitors will still feel nervous after reading the description of the artwork. It challenges both the political aspects of disposing of nuclear waste and our knee-jerk aversion to anything associated with nuclear power.
This is an exhibition of thoughtful works and though not all of the artists clearly land their political messages, it’s still a strong showing from a collection of international artists.
Journal is on at ICA, The Mall, SW1Y 5AH until 7 September. Admission is included in day membership for £1.
For more art to see in London, check out our July listings.