I recently stopped by Nottingham Contemporary to see their new exhibition Aquatopia. I thought it was among the best museum show’s I’ve ever seen, and wished I could have come back for another bite.
It has been a big year for Nottingham Contemporary. After receiving a boost of notoriety by way of Mark Leckey’s The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things, the recently rechristened museum and its director, Alex Farquharson, immediately launched their most ambitious curatorial project to date: a traveling exhibition titled Aquatopia. Organized with partner institution Tate St. Ives, the exhibition comprises more than 150 artworks as well as performances, lectures, and screenings, all organized around the imaginative worlds of the ocean depths.
With artworks cutting across history and displayed in groups of abstract logic, Aquatopia could be described as a conceptual survey; it explores its theme from diverse historical angles and artistic perspectives. Here, the ocean is a filter, a site for interpretation, a toolbox of images and relations, and a stage for the sexual, spiritual, scientific, and narrative imagination. Firmly framed in the fantastic, artworks and objects are relieved of their descriptive duties and instead evidence their author’s fears, dreams, and wonderment. The brilliant antique copper diving helmet, the set of biological scientific etchings, the eighteenth-century map—each inspires new associations beyond their original purpose.
You can read the whole review at Daily Serving.