artists & participants
Surprise, Surprise is an exhibition that appears at first glance to be a typical summer ‘blockbuster’ set to bring crowds flocking in with its promise of ‘wow’ factor and instant accessibility through a stellar cast of high-profile artists. But, the forty acclaimed artists taking part will actually be displaying pieces that are atypical, unrepresentative or even, in some cases, antithetical to the work for which they are best known. By reversing expectations through this presentation of the unexpected, the unfamiliar, the unknown and the one-off, this exhibition is both a revelation and a challenge to the preconceptions we readily impose on exhibitions of contemporary artists’ work, often before we have actually seen them. Essentially, the aim of Surprise, Surprise is to focus on art’s fundamental ability to point out what we do not know, as well as allowing us to recognize what we do.
Contemporary art is certainly not unique in fuelling and trading on expectation through the advance promotion of well-known names. Large-scale group exhibitions – and typically the tourist driven ‘epic’ summer shows – tend to play most aggressively to this kind of recognition factor, stimulating interest in the show through the promise that the more established (or ‘celebrity’) artists’ names present. For any exhibition, the circulation of a list of participating artists has a particular function as a way to engage a potential audience even before the works go on display. As a strategy, this highlights the increasing importance attached to an artist as a personality, rather than focusing on their practice or the qualities of their individual pieces of work. Further, if what is exhibited fits expectation, it may only support a somewhat one-dimensional representation of the artist’s output and conversely reduce interest in further exploration of any alternative style or medium . Compounding this, individual works are often co-opted into thematic exhibitions precisely on the basis that they are both ‘typical’ of the artist and at the same time validate the exhibition’s thesis or idea. It is perhaps then inevitable that these tactics – which drive a popular discourse around contemporary art – simply reinforce preconceptions rather than open up a wider field of discussion or viewpoint.
Surprise, Surprise is a playful but provocative exhibition, which aims to expose the mechanisms of expectation and reception whilst suggesting ways in which the apparently familiar could confront us with something less expected.
A publication, including a guide to the works on display and further texts by the curators on the participating artists will accompany this exhibition and be available from the ICA.
Participating Artists: Doug Aitken, John Baldessari, Matthew Barney, Christian Boltanski, Dinos & Jake Chapman, Larry Clark, Martin Creed, Thomas Demand, Peter Doig, Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset, Olafur Eliasson, Nan Goldin, Douglas Gordon, Rodney Graham, Andreas Gursky, Thomas Hirschhorn, Damien Hirst, Carsten Höller, Jenny Holzer, Anish Kapoor, Martin Kippenberger, Barbara Kruger, Paul McCarthy, Mariko Mori, Takashi Murakami, Ernesto Neto, Alberto Oehlen, Chris Ofilli, Raymond Pettibon, Elizabeth Peyton, Richard Prince, Neo Rauch, Ed Ruscha, Tino Sehgal, Santiago Sierra, Cindy Sherman, Wolfgang Tilmans, Hiba! A hivatkozási forrás nem található., Kara Walker (with Klaus Bürgel), Christopher Williams
Surprise, Surprise is curated by Jens Hoffmann, Director of Exhibitions, and Rob Bowman, Curator of Exhibitions, ICA.
Kuratoren: Jens Hoffmann, Rob Bowman
mit Doug Aitken, John Baldessari, Matthew Barney, Christian Boltanski, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Larry Clark, Martin Creed, John Currin, Thomas Demand, Peter Doig, Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset, Olafur Eliasson, Nan Goldin, Douglas Gordon, Rodney Graham, Andreas Gursky, Thomas Hirschhorn, Damien Hirst, Carsten Höller, Jenny Holzer, Anish Kapoor, Martin Kippenberger, Barbara Kruger, Robert Mapplethorpe, Paul McCarthy, Mariko Mori, Juan Muñoz, Takashi Murakami, Ernesto Neto, Albert Oehlen, Chris Ofili, Raymond Pettibon, Elizabeth Peyton, Richard Prince, Neo Rauch, Ed Ruscha, Tino Sehgal, Cindy Sherman, Santiago Sierra, Wolfgang Tillmans, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Kara Walker / Klaus Bürgel, Christopher Williams