MUSE PRESENTS

2021: Looking Ahead to a Year of Moving Image Art

As we look ahead to a year in moving image art, the momentum in the medium is confirmed, as some of the world’s most fascinating practitioners, art galleries and museums plan to open shows. From algorithmic beauty to multisensory installations, prepare to be immersed and transported into a land of dreams.

 

2021 is set to be another banner year for the moving image. A stellar line-up of video art, installations and VR experiences promises a cultural calendar full of creative innovation as artists continue to push the boundaries of this diverse art form. While current opening dates may alter depending on Covid regulations, it's never too early to keep abreast of the most exciting moving-image exhibitions coming up over the next twelve months.

From algorithmic beauty to multisensory installations, prepare to be immersed and transported into a land of dreams.

Woman looks up at "Quantum Memories", a large-scale, colourful, moving abstract artwork by media artist Refik Anadol
Woman looks up at "Quantum Memories", a large-scale, colourful, moving abstract artwork by media artist Refik Anadol

Installation view of Refik Anadol Quantum Memories 2020 on display in NGV Triennial 2020 from 19 December 2020–18 April 2021 at NGV International, Melbourne © Refik Anadol Photo: Tom Ross

We turn first to the Southern Hemisphere where an astonishing moving-image work sets an ambitious tone for the year: Refik Anadol’s Quantum Memories at Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria. The Muse Art Programme commissioned artist has created a data sculpture which uses quantum computing software to process millions of nature-related images from the internet to create a fiercely contemporary display of algorithmic beauty. The work will be on show in the gallery’s main foyer through to April.

A futuristic aesthetic will be a landmark on the London art calendar with the largest European exhibition of the Japanese audio-visual artist Ryoji Ikeda taking over 180 Studios, presented by Vinyl Factory and Fact in collaboration with Audemars Piguet Contemporary, currently planned for the Spring. Known for creating sublime digital environments, the artist will transform the Strand space into a multi-sensory passage filled with his mind-bending light and sound installations.

Images above courtesy of Jack Hems, 180 The Strand, 2021.

March will see a major highlight with the announcement of this year’s Dream Commission finalist from Muse, the Rolls-Royce Art Programme. The artist awarded Muse’s prestigious moving-image commission will go on to present a full-length digital artwork at the Fondation Beyeler in Basel this autumn. We can expect something truly special as the shortlist represents some of the most compelling talents in the field, each of whom bring their own unique vision to the medium.

March will see a major highlight with the announcement of this year’s Dream Commission finalist from Muse, the Rolls-Royce Art Programme.

The restrictions wrought by the pandemic has forced many curators and institutions to seek creative solutions to bring art to the public. For LACMA, the answer lies in blending the digital and the physical. The Los Angeles museum has teamed up with Snapchat to create an open-air augmented reality tour of the city which will reevaluate American historical narratives through virtual monuments which tell the stories of LA communities. Set to launch in early 2021, Monumental Perspectives will be available to view via the Snapchat app.

Image of sunny outdoor space with palm trees and green lawn, with modern buildings in background

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Broad Contemporary Art Museum, Resnick Pavilion is the site of one lens location for the Snapchat initiative. Photo © Museum Associates/LACMA

Despite the predictions of a scaled-back art scene in 2021, for now it seems that many museums still plan to push ahead with their blockbusters. One such heavy hitter is a Paris retrospective of the celebrated filmmaker and moving-image artist Hito Steyerl which will open at the Centre Pompidou after debuting at Dusseldorf’s K21 last year. Hito Steyerl: I Will Survive will feature the German artist’s major multimedia installations and video works which tackle themes of mass surveillance and social inequality with her distinctive blend of satire and acerbic critique.

“We enter yet again another dimension that is revealed to us through the lens of the artist and the experience of the augmented reality.”

Amira Gad
Curator, Serpentine Gallery
Two pieces of art work for the Rolls-Royce Muse exhibition

Images above are stills from Curious Alice, a VR experience created by the V&A and HTC Vive Arts. Featuring original artwork by Kristjana Williams courtesy V&A and HTC Vive Arts.

Spring will begin as mad as a March hare with the V&A’s highly anticipated exhibition about the cultural impact of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser charts how Lewis Carroll’s absurdist fable developed into a worldwide phenomenon influencing everything from art and music to fashion and cinema. This big-budget show will offer enticing digital experiences to match such as Curious Alice, an immersive VR experience which gives visitors the opportunity to experience Wonderland in Alice’s shoes, now available to download and experience at home.

This fantastical tone will carry through into May with the unveiling of a new installation by Scottish multimedia artist Rachel Maclean in the bucolic backdrop of Edinburgh’s Jupiter Artland. The gallery’s woodlands will become the permanent location for Upside Mimi-Mimi Down, a fairy-tale inspired ‘shop’ which interrogates the dystopian elements of the social media age. By combining film, animation and installation, Maclean will draw visitors into a surreal narrative about a doll called ‘Mimi’ on a perpetual quest for self-improvement.

 

Image: Rachel Maclean, courtesy Jupiter Artland

Multi-media artist Rachel Maclean's name written in a colourful, playful typeface

An immersive VR experience gives visitors the opportunity to experience Wonderland in Alice’s shoes

Race and identity will also continue to be urgent themes in the world of moving images. Set to open at Kettle’s Yard in May, Untitled: Art on the Conditions of Our Time will examine current cultural and political issues through the lens of 10 black British diaspora artists, many of whom work in the medium of film and video. The Cambridge gallery will present a newly commissioned video and sound work by Barby Asante which combines poetry and performance to explore everyday rituals, as well as a three-channel film by NT shot in the Barbican.

 

Image credits top to bottom:

Jess Harrington, at Untitled, Kettle’s Yard

Claire Barrett, at Untitled, Kettle’s Yard

Priam Thomas, at Untitled, Kettle’s Yard

Woman with hands on her head looks down out of a window as sunlight hits her face
Suited man holding goggles up to eyes
Text reading "Down at the Twilight Zone" in bright, neon colours

In Athens, the summer heats up with The Artist on the Composer, a collaboration between NEON and the Greek National Opera which brings together artists, composers and filmmakers to create multidisciplinary projects. This year it spotlights the award-winning director Yorgos Lanthimos whose short film starring Emma Stone will be screened at the Stavros Niarchos Hall accompanied by live orchestral ensembles.

 

Image: Director Yorgos Lanthimos photo by Emma Stone courtesy NEON

Black and white portrait photo of Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos

Autumn spells big news for the Dream Commision’s shortlistees. As well as the unveiling of the finalist’s work, one of the selected artists, Martine Syms, will present a new interactive video installation at Turin’s Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo. Titled Neural Swamp, the work furthers Syms’ enquiry into the circulation of images and representation by using AI technology. Whether it’s powerful reflections on our current reality such as these, or dazzling works providing moments of escapism, it’s clear that the moving image will continue to be a powerful visual force shaping the artistic landscape of this year.

 

Image below: previous work of Martine Syms, Installation View, Ugly Plymouths, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ and Bridget Donahue.

Person stands inside exhibition space lit with red light, showing artworks by American artist Martine Syms

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