As part of this year’s annual Totally Thames festival, which sees a series of arts and cultural events taking place on London’s riverbanks, New York artist Anita Glesta has brought a mesmerising projection of brightly coloured, circling fish to the National Theatre’s Lyttleton Flytower, visible from across the water, as well as from the popular South Bank and the theatre’s river terrace below.
Anita Glesta: Watershed, Lyttelton Flytower, National Theatre, London, 22-27 September 2015. Photograph: Martin Kennedy.
The work has been in development since 2009, when Glesta was asked to make a piece in collaboration with Art_Port and the UN for the COP15 summit on climate change in Copenhagen. In 2013, a previous version of Watershed was projected on the wall of St Patrick’s Basilica in Lower Manhattan during the New Museums Ideas City Festival. This version used carp as its dancers. For the London version, Glesta travelled to Colombia to film the Amazonian pirarucu fish, which is almost on the verge of extinction. She is interested, she says, in using fish for their multipurpose characteristics.
The circling motion is something that appears in a lot of Glesta’s works, often representing women and planets. These metaphorical readings could be carried over to Watershed as well, but the work also functions on a much more literal and didactic level. As Glesta explains: “I would like this work to be a vehicle of communication, literally like a moving-image billboard.” She has carried out a lot of research into climate change and water levels, thinking specifically about the island of Manhattan, floating in the mouth of the ocean. After London, Glesta – a painter and sculptor by trade, but one who loves this digital medium for its bringing together of painting, sculpture and architecture – is taking the work back to New York, where it will become part of a much larger project. She also hopes to tour it internationally.
Anita Glesta: Watershed
Lyttelton Flytower, National Theatre, London
22-27 September 2015
Interview by ANNA McNAY
Filmed by MARTIN KENNEDY
Anita Glesta: interview
After I had seen Brooklyn-based artist Anita Glesta’s travelling multimedia installation Gernika/Guernica at the Arthur M Sackler Museum of Art and Archaeology in Beijing, she sat down with me to discuss her project. The following are edited excerpts from that conversation.
Anita Glesta, New York “Navigating Memory, the Universe and Nothing”
Born and raised in New York from a Russian/Polish Jewish family, Glesta sees herself as wholly a New Yorker but with deep links to European history; in addition, she spent part of her teenage years in Northern Spain in the 1970s so feels an affinity for the experience of political turmoil there, and the legacy of Gernika. Her series of sculptures entitled Gernika/Guernica (2007), which commemorate the 70th anniversary of the horrific attack on Gernika by Nazi Germany ordered by President Franco.
Aesthetic and intellectual clarity defines the painting of Alan Robb, who lives in Newport-on-Tay in Scotland. A retrospective, spanning almost 40 years from 1974 to 2012, was staged at the McManus Gallery, Dundee, earlier this year enabling the artist's work to be more fully appreciated.
RSA 181st Annual Exhibition
The Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) in Edinburgh has got in before the Royal Academy in London with its summer show. The RSA 2007 exhibition powerfully develops the 'Highlands and Islands' theme in contemporary art and sits well within global aspirations and directions.
West Meets East in a DADAdventure
Just as the extensive exhibit, 'DADA', which revisited the movement, closed at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, a small but appealing coda is being presented by the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York. According to Corina Suteu, director of the Institute, 'DADA ... born Romania' is a direct response to 'DADA', which premiered in February 2006 at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC and closed on 11 September at MoMA. 'DADA' proposed both Zurich and New York as the birthplaces of a phenomenon that claimed to have no boundaries or limitations and was, in fact, a truly international movement.