Art on the Underground announces 2023 programme

From: Transport for London
Published: Tue Dec 20 2022

Art on the Underground has today announced its programme for 2023, comprising ambitious and critically engaged new works.

Responding to London Underground as a constantly changing site of multiple histories, communities, actions and reactions, the 2023 programme will present new works that address this daily reality through performance, sound, visual and sculptural interventions.

Art on the Underground is committed to working with a diverse range of contemporary artists to reflect on how we move through and have a collective experience of public space. How might an artwork point to, embody and be a part of these conversations? What does it mean to encounter this work in public space? Art on the Underground continue to interrogate these questions, bringing leading international artists to the city to reflect London's diversity.

Art on the Underground's 2023 programme features major commissions situated across London including:

  • A major project with British artist and Turner Prize nominee Monster Chetwynd along the 60 metre long disused platform at Gloucester Road station on 18 May 2023
  • Barby Asante will develop her seminal work 'Declaration of Independence', with a major performance in September 2023 at Stratford station
  • For his first international public commission, Italian-Ethiopian artist Jem Perucchini will create a new artwork for Brixton station in November 2023
  • American artist Sharon Hayes and British artist and photographer Joy Gregory will create new commissions for the pocket Tube Map
  • The launch of a series of artist-led collaborations with the Greater London Authority's (GLA) Community Spaces at Risk Team, bringing new audio works to the city. The first commission in the summer of 2023 will be with Shenece Oretha
  • Canadian-Korean artist Zadia Xa will create new work for Aldgate East Tube station in March 2023 which focuses on the mythologies of the Tube environment, in dialogue with her installation at the neighbouring The Whitechapel Gallery

In May 2023, Art on the Underground launches an ambitious, multifaceted commission with Turner-prize nominated artist Monster Chetwynd at Gloucester Road Tube station. The project comprises a 60-metre-long sculptural installation featuring three dimensional creatures including frogs, salamanders, tortoises and tadpoles and a new film. Known for her joyous and irreverent artworks, Chetwynd takes as her starting point the engineering feat of the Crystal Palace, built in 1851, and its design by gardener turned architect Joseph Paxton.

A major commission with Barby Asante will work with Transport for London (TfL) station colleagues on a new iteration of Asante's seminal performative artwork, Declaration of Independence. Declaration of Independence is an ongoing performance/forum that brings together a group of women and non-binary people to reflect on how the political affects the personal, considering how the social and cultural implications of historic declarations, policies and legislations impact on their everyday lives. Asante will develop the project through working with a range of TfL operational staff in a series of writing and creative workshops that will produce a collective script for a new Declaration of Independence. This script will be performed by the artist and the collective of station staff to an audience of thousands at Stratford station, with visual outcomes at both Stratford and Notting Hill Gate in September 2023. This collaborative, performative and dialogic work will be Asante's first major commission in public space and will draw on her ongoing commitment to the politics of place, space, memory and the histories and legacies of colonialism.

For his first major public commission, Jem Perucchini will create a new artwork for Brixton Tube station, launching in November 2023. Through his distinctive painting style Perucchini's practice conjures Early Renaissance art; his works are like windows into a parallel world, with luminous light, ethereal figures and a meditative quality which will be reflected in this new mural. Moreover, it questions hierarchies, identities and histories. Jem Perucchini's superimposition of references underscores how history can be seen and interpreted from multiple viewpoints. He will be the seventh artist in the series of commissions at Brixton Tube station since 2018 with the programme inviting artists to respond to the diverse narratives of the local murals painted in the 1980s, the rapid development of the area and the wider social and political history of mural making.

For the 38th pocket Tube map commission, American artist Sharon Hayes will examine UK and London-based newspaper archives and the history of LGBTQ+ activism and protest in the UK. Using collage, Hayes will explore the differing elements of language as it is disseminated and re-disseminated across time and space. Hayes's work considers the political resistance of words and invites the viewer into the intimate and radical politics of common understanding. An expansion of Hayes's Tube map commission will be on view in poster sites at Holland Park Tube station from May 2023.

Joy Gregory will take on the pocket Tube map commission for its 39th iteration. Gregory is a London-based artist and photographer whose work explores gender, identity, race, social history, marginalised cultures and lost languages. Renowned for her influence on the Black British photography and social justice movements of the 1980s and 90s, Gregory uses photographic media to re-create forgotten cultural, historical and political narratives. For her pocket Tube map commission, Gregory is interested in exploring the unique context and reach of TfL, its communities and staff, and their creative lives drawing on her camera-less photographic techniques and most recently, her work with embroidered textiles to re-imagine historical narratives around the role of women.

Working with the GLA's Community Spaces at Risk Team, London-based multidisciplinary artist Shenece Oretha will work closely with a number of community spaces in London to produce collective audio artworks to be heard in London Underground spaces and the communities around stations. This new commission will invite people to think about and appreciate listening and sound as an embodied and collective practice.

Canadian-Korean artist Zadia Xa will create new work for Aldgate East Tube station in March 2023 which focuses on mythologies of the Tube environment and history, expanding on themes and ideas from her commissioned exhibition at the neighbouring Whitechapel Gallery that draws inspiration from diverse fields such as ecology, science-fiction and folklore. For Aldgate East, Xa will specifically look at the historical use by TfL of the mythical Griffin used as an official symbol by London Transport in 1933 and as part of the public face of the organisation up to at least the late 1950s. Xa's work, launching on 21 March 2023, imagines the Griffin as a guardian at the entrance of Aldgate East and acts as a custodian of the station or a gate-line sentry.

Eleanor Pinfield, Head of Art on the Underground, commented: "Bringing leading international artists to the spaces of London Underground, the 2023 programme invites a focus on the collective experience of the Tube environment, exploring the imaginary and physical terrain of the spaces we travel through every day. These major new artworks re-cast the Tube as a site for collective voices, for contemplation and revelation and for the retelling of stories. The 2023 programme brings unmissable artworks to the city, encouraging us all to explore and enjoy what London has to offer."

Justine Simons OBE, Deputy Mayor, Culture and the Creative Industries, said: "Art on the Underground is a jewel in our transport crown - renowned around the world for transforming our Tube into a huge public art gallery. 2023 will see more bold and inspiring commissions from a wide range of contemporary artists, from Turner Prize nominee Monster Chetwynd to Italian-Ethiopian artist Jem Perucchini, including Barby Asante's seminal work 'Declaration of Independence' at Stratford station. It's another example of how we are working to build a better London for everyone."

About Art on the Underground

Art on the Underground invites artists to create projects for London's Underground that are seen by millions of people each day, changing the way people experience their city. Incorporating a range of artistic media from painting, installation, sculpture, digital and performance, to prints and custom Tube map covers, the programme produces critically acclaimed projects that are accessible to all, and which draw together London's diverse communities. Since its inception, Art on the Underground has presented commissions by UK-based and international artists including Jeremy Deller, Yayoi Kusama, Mark Wallinger, and Tania Bruguera, allowing the programme to remain at the forefront of contemporary debate on how art can shape public space.

Throughout 2023, 'The Writer in Residence' programme by Art on the Underground will appoint a TfL staff member to create engaging responses to Art on the Underground artists and artworks, highlighting and amplifying creative voices within TfL. Each year a TfL staff member will produce written responses to the Art on the Underground artistic programme, published online, in print in TfL's internal magazine and installed in a central London station, foregrounding new voices on Art on the Underground's programme.

Black Blossoms is an expanded curatorial platform showcasing historically marginalised artists with meaningful stories to tell through their art practice. We exhibit the artworks of the artists we work with worldwide in public and gallery spaces with the hope of engaging art practitioners, collectors and art lovers to further explore and connect with each artist and their practice on a deeper and meaningful level.

The Black Blossoms School of Art and Culture and Journal is dedicated to documenting and highlighting the art histories and the current creative practices of artists from historically marginalised backgrounds. From 2022 Black Blossoms School of Art and Culture has partnered with Art on the Underground on a new series of short courses which are free and open to all. The courses expand on the ideas explored in the artworks and practices of the artists working with Art on the Underground, these include Joy Labinjo, Larry Achiampong, Rhea Storr and Shanti Panchal. Each course will run for four weeks and be led by a lecturer who will devise an engaging curriculum that includes an artist talk and a guest lecture.

Other Cinemas is a project dedicated to supporting news ways of making and sharing films by and for Black and non-white communities. Run by Turab Shah and Arwa Aburawa Other Cinemas work with Art on the Underground to produce short video documentaries for each artist commission,

Culture and Community Spaces at Risk (CCSaR) protects spaces valued by local communities, particularly those that contribute to community resilience, social integration, and collective action. It works to ensure community identity and the cultural heritage of London's neighborhoods is protected. CCSaR sits within the Culture Team in the Greater London Authority. Art on the Underground is working with the CCSaR team on a series of sound commissions launching with a project with artist Shenece Oretha in 2023.

Artist Biographies

Barby Asante is a London based artist, educator and researcher. Her practice and research is concerned with the politics of place, space and the ever-present histories and legacies of slavery and colonialism. Her recent projects include, To Make Love is to Re-Create Ourselves Over and Over Again: A Soliloquy to Heartbreak, Untitled, Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, 2021; Declaration of Independence, Diaspora Pavillion, Venice, 2017, Library of Performing Rights, BALTIC, Gateshead 2019, Bergen Kusthall 2020, Brent Biennial, 2020; Black Togetherness as Lingua Franca with Amal Alhaag, Framer Framed, Amsterdam, 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning, 2018; Cracks in the Curriculum: Countless Ways of Knowing, Serpentine Gallery, London 2018: SERP Revisted with Barbara Steveni, Flat Time House/ Peckham Platform, 2018. She has a PhD from the University of Westminster and is on the boards of the Women's Art Library and 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning

Joy Gregory is an important and influential artist sometimes overlooked by the mainstream as her work does not easily fit into any framework. Her practice is concerned with social and political issues often making particular reference to histories and cultural differences, which characterise contemporary society. The work is highly intelligent, thoughtful and challenging, tending toward a seductive aesthetic which underlines its relevance and accessibility across class, race, cultural, and economic divides. As an artist, she makes full use of the media from video, digital and analogue photography to Victorian print processes. She studied at Manchester Polytechnic (1984) and the Royal College of Art (1986) where she graduating in with an MA in Photography. She has exhibited all over the world and shown in many biennales and festivals and is also the recipient of numerous awards. Her work included in many collections including the UK Arts Council Collection, Victoria and Albert Museum, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia, and Yale British Art Collection. She currently lives and works in London. In 2002, Gregory received the NESTA Fellowship to and is due to take up a Fellowship at Yale Centre of British Art in 2022 as an International Scholar researching. She has recently completed a commission for the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and is artist in Residence at The Exchange, Newlyn in Penzance. As well as being a highly respected artist, Gregory is a renown educator of 30 years with a wide range of experience from formal to community and elementary schools to Higher Education. She has been the Director of Higher Education programmes in the UK and overseas and was the external examiner for the MFA in Photography at the National Institute of Design, India and the BA Fine at Duncan & Jordanstown. Joy has also been involved in a variety of photography mentorship programmes including a project around climate change for the British Council in Nigeria and for the Market Photography Workshop in Johannesburg training marginalized communities in the Kalahari to take control and tell their own stories without an outside.

Sharon Hayes is an artist who uses video, performance, sound and public sculpture to expose specific intersections between history, politics and speech, to unspool reductive historical narratives and to re-ignite dormant pathways through which counter-understandings of the contemporary political condition can be formed. In her work, she lingers in the grammars-linguistic, affective and sonic-through which political resistance appears. These examinations are central to her work: from her earliest video installation in 2003, Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) Screeds #13, 16, 20 & 29, in which she re-speaks of each of the four audio tapes made by Patty Hearst and the SLA during her kidnapping, to her most recent work If We Had Had, a work that tracks 22 queer, non-binary and trans folks walking through the city of New Orleans. Hayes' practice is in conversation and acts in collective force and resonance with the heterogeneous field of actions, voices and practices that resist normative behaviors, complicit and unjust social agreements and proscriptive temporalities to open up new ways of being together in the world. Her work sustains a distinct and vital commitment to perfor-mance and to collaboration and is devoted to the radical possibilities of non-normative occupation of public space and in holding public space as a site for unpredictable and unregulated encounters. Hayes has had numerous solo exhibitions, including at n.b.k. (Neue Berliner Kunstverein) in Berlin, Germany (2022), Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden (2019), Andrea Rosen Gallery in New York (2014), the Tanya Leighton Gallery in Berlin (2013), the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York (2012), and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid (2012). Her work has also been exhibited at the Venice Biennale (2013), the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. She is the recipient of many awards and grants, including a US Artists Fellowship (2021), Pew Fellowship (2016), a Guggenheim Fellowship (2014), the Alpert Award in Visual Arts (2013), an Anonymous Was a Woman Award (2013), and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Fellowship (2007). She currently teaches in the Weitzman School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania.

Shenece Oretha (b. Montserrat) is a multidisciplinary artist currently listening from London. She sounds out sculptures, multi-channel installations, print, workshops, performance and text to amplify the mobilising and embodied potential of sound. Her solo shows include Called to Respond, Cell Project Space, London, (2020), TESTING GROUNDS, Cafe OTO Project Space, London, (2019). Group exhibitions include, Brent Biennial, London (2022) SURVEY II, G39, Cardiff and Jerwood Arts, London (2021), Cinders, Sinuous and Supple, Les Urbaines (2019), Lausanne, Switzerland (2019) and PRAISE N PAY IT/ PULL UP, COME INTO THE RISE, South London Gallery, London, (2018). Shenece was recently commissioned to make a new work in response to the sound archive at the British Library as part of the CCA Show - Notes on Play (2021).

Jem Perucchini (b. 1995, Tekeze, Ethiopia) lives and works in Milan. He graduated from the Accademia di Brera (Milan) in 2021. Jem Perucchini's first solo exhibition took place at Corvi-Mora, London, in the Spring of 2022, and included paintings and sculpture.

Zadie Xa was born in Vancouver, Canada in 1983. She has an MA in Painting at the Royal College of Art and a BFA from the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design. Recent solo exhibitions include: Whitechapel Gallery (2022). The Box Plymouth (2022), National Gallery (2021, Leeds Art Gallery (2021), Remai Modern (2020). Group exhibitions and performances include: Jeju Biennale (2023), Somerset House (2023), Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2022), Hauser & Wirth, London (2022) Jeffrey Deitch Gallery (2022), Blindspot Gallery, Hong Kong (2022), Hauser & Wirth, Los Angeles (2022), Castello di Rivoli (2021), Haus der Kunst (2021), Shanghai Biennale (2021), Frieze London (2020), AGO Toronto (2020), Art Night (2020), Venice Biennale (2019), Hayward Gallery (2018) and Serpentine Galleries (2018 & 2017). Xa lives and works in London.

Pictures of more works by the artists are available on request.

Company: Transport for London

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