Art Now: Lucy Gunning: Intermediate II
Tate Britain: Exhibition
1 November 200120 January 2002

Art Now is a programme of exhibitions that aims to generate discussion and promote awareness of new art in Britain. For the latest in the series, Lucy Gunning presents a new work entitled Intermediate II, an installation which brings together both sculpture and video.

The title Intermediate II refers to a ballet class filmed by the artist from a busy street in London’s King’s Cross. Gunning has directed the camera lens upwards, focusing on young ballerinas through the windows of a dance school. The dancers stand at the window with their backs to us, either resting or performing various movements under the guidance of a teacher we cannot see. The gestures of their heads and hands are captured at a distance, framed within the windows of the second and third floors of the building. The noise of the London traffic often drowns out the sounds of the piano and intermittently our view is obscured by passing cars and buses. The students are oblivious to the city outside, seemingly absorbed in another world, and the film is shown on a monitor placed high on the gallery wall so as to reinforce their remoteness and containment.

The second part of the installation is a room constructed within the space. From the outside, this room resembles a simple wooden box or crate, but on entering the space we find ourselves in a miniature ballet studio, complete with mirrors on all sides, an exercise barre and a polished wooden dance floor. The room is scaled down but there is enough space for someone to dance freely, and the mirrors surrounding us make us even more aware of our physical presence here. As we stand inside this space, confronting our own reflections, it seems that our secret observation of the ballet students has turned full circle. We are now the performers.

Lucy Gunning trained as a sculptor although she has become primarily known for her film and video works, which often focus on the performance of physical acts, examining the idiosyncrasies of human behaviour. She won critical acclaim for two early films Climbing around My Room 1993 and The Horse Impressionists 1994 both of which engage with ideas about ‘acting out’. Gunning’s work often has a wistfulness and sense of nostalgia, evoking memories from childhood and adolescence.

Born in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1964, Gunning studied at Falmouth School of Art, Cornwall, and Goldsmiths College, London. She has had a number of solo and group exhibitions in this country and abroad, and was recently featured in The British Art Show 5 (National Touring Exhibitions, 2000). Gunning is currently on a scholarship at the British School in Rome.

The exhibition is curated by Mary Horlock, Curator, Tate Britain. The Art Now programme is supported by Patrons of New Art.