Darlings of the Underground at Subsidiary Projects

For their latest curatorial project, duo DATEAGLE ART have collaborated with writer Anna Souter for a short run at residential space Subsidiary Projects. The gallery's location in the front room of a home adds a great deal to any of the nomad exhibitions passing through and finding their physical manifestations in the space. This is certainly the case for 'Darlings of the Underground', a cross-discipline showing of international artists exploring the unseen workings of nature, often overlooked by the idealistic tendencies of artists working with wildlife.

Installation view: Nayoung Kang, Fox Calling, 2019. Sound installation, photography, foamex prints, voice recording, module device chip, 92 x 199 cm. 

Image courtesy of DATEAGLE ART

Visitors to the space, which is open by appointment only,  are drawn in through Korean artist Nayoung Kang's photographic and sound window installation, depicting the sights and sounds outside the artist's own home in north London. The minutiae of urban decay, daily life and wildlife forms the artist's candid landscape from the ground up. Kang has a special interest in London's foxes, and a sound element to the work, with its explanatory title, 'Fox Calling', involves the artist calling the local wildlife, enticing them towards her home.

James Alec Hardy's video work is a highlight of an already strong exhihition; perhaps 'strong' is reductive, it is more so that the narrative and ideas are coherent and strong together. Hardy's piece is footage taken of several trees local to Subsidiary Projects in Kennington, south London, with a simple lit configuration which creates a beautiful dialogue between domestic beauty, through interior design, and raw, sublime experiences of beauty surrounding us daily, such as the texture and "materiality" of a tree. This stark contrast between bark and a techno, neon palette makes a simple concept bold and memorable. 

James Alec Hardy, 190301, 2019. Dimensions variable, 4K Digital video
Image courtesy of DATEAGLE ART

It could be that the domestic setting is the driving force of the exhibition's ambience, but each piece respectively has an almost hypnotic stillness to it, encouraging the viewer to bask in the current space and time. Nature may be cyclical but our lived experiences need tenderness and an occasional reminder of our connection with the natural world.

Installation view: Ines Neto dos Santos, Mother, Mother, 2019. Hand-blown glass, kombucha, SCOBY, sage, seasonal fruits, acrylic and steel frame. Glass work developed in collaboration with Gerald Mak
Image courtesy of DATEAGLE ART

Incorporating an immersive element seems to be very important to young curators; I certainly attended one or two exhibitions last year heavily saturated with Instagrammable art without a discernible theme. This is not the case here, where artist Inês Neto de Santos has produced a now-trendy Kombucha drink, displayed in a stunning handblown glass sculpture-cum-receptacle, made in collaboration with Gerald Mak. We were informed that the artist works solely with food and drink, and this is the first time she had ever been able to exhibit in a more concrete way, as the work is usually consumed instantly. Kombucha is made using bacteria cultures, and the artist walked around the local area with the liquid prior to the opening, allowing the liquid to absorb and transform as a result of the local bacteria.

Small, charming anecdotes such as that from Neto de Santos make the show a refreshing, tranquil respite from city life. The genuine commitment to understanding the underside of urban wildlife and habitation shown by the curators is rather inspiring, and hints at a new age of artists and curators assuming the role of an orator, telling the stories of otherwise unheard voices.

You might also like...