London – “Alternative Guide to the Universe” at Hayward Gallery, through August 26th 2013

July 27th, 2013

Alfred Jensen, Twelve Events in a Dual Universe (1978) ©ARS, NY and DACS, London 2013, Photo: Linda Nylind, Courtesy Hayward Gallery

Currently on view at the Hayward Gallery at Southbank Centre in London is a new exhibition of work entitled Alternative Guide to the Universe, a compilation of works by artists who taught themselves their crafts, focusing on work that offers a new perspective on our socially accepted conventions of artistic practice and cultural perception.

Lee Godie. Lee and Cameo on a chair… (early to mid 1970s), © the artist, Courtesy Richard and Ellen Sandor Family Collection

Artists, architects, fringe physicists, and inventors who have brought a new and unconventional perspective to the artistic community are currently featured as examples of how ingenuity can be just as valuable as received wisdom and time-tested traditions. The works challenge the norms imposed by society and offers a rare reverence for the unproven, often cast-aside ways of art making.  In addition, the show also challenges contemporary notions of “outsider art” as a societal fringe practice.  Refocusing the language of the gallery, Alternative Guide looks instead on the highly refined practices and unique creative potentials developed beyond the traditional canon of contemporary art.

William Scott, SFOs The Skyline People of Wholesome Encounters Of A New Science Fiction Future (2013), © Creative Growth Art Center, Courtesy of Creative Growth Art Center

The Museum of Everything, an organization dedicated to “unintentional, untrained, undiscovered, unclassifiable, unknowable, undeniable, and unforgettable artists of modern times,” is also present, offering an exhibition by Sri Nek Chand Saini, who created the Rock Garden of Chandigarh,India.  A uniquely rendered project, the work once again explores mans connection to the worlds outside himself.

Rammellzee, Color Letter Racer Set (c.1988) and White Letter Racer Set (c.1991), (Installation view ‘Alternative Guide to the Universe’), Courtesy Hayward Gallery 2013, © Estate of Carmela Zagari Rammellzee, Photo: Linda Nylind

Themes present throughout the exhibition include the mystery of time and space, imaginations of cities, unproven concepts of healing, and devices for time travel and communication.  Other dimensions, unseen energy, and fictional identities form a parallel, dream-like reality where creativity and new ideas are more important than the conventional structures that make us comfortable.  The implications for the exhibition are potent.  Reframing the “outside” as a realm of understanding beyond even the human race, the Hayward Gallery reunites these “fringe” artists with the rest of humanity, defined only by their experimentations with convention and new forms to explore the same questions of meaning in the human condition.

The exhibition at the Hayward Gallery will continue through August 26, 2013.

Paul Laffoley, The World Self (1967), (Installation view ‘Alternative Guide to the Universe’), Courtesy Hayward Gallery 2013, © the artist, Photo: Linda Nylind

Yulu Wu, Remote Controlled Cart with Clothing (2013) Courtesy Hayward Gallery 2013, © the artist, Photo: Linda Nylind

—E. Baker

Related Links:
Exhibition Page [Southbank Centre]