An exhibition that takes as its starting point the role of pleasure in creative work, and a question about what regenerative possibilities could exist for the stretch of road between two gardens on Victoria Embankment.
Curated by Taylor LeMelle, the exhibition features contributions from two Somerset House Studios artists: Turner Prize winner Tai Shani and design studio Comuzi Lab, as well as a new site-specific commission from artist Mani Kambo who was selected via open call.
LeMelle invited the artists to speculate on a series of prompts centred around a theoretical intervention on Somerset House’s surroundings – the space in between Victoria Embankment Gardens; green areas either side of the site along the River Thames. These prompts included questioning the implications of connecting these surroundings, looking at the change to the air quality, who might be the workers to execute this alteration and what would be the imagined worker's needs.
The title Swimmers Limb surfaced as a way to encompass the societal impulse to imagine new futures while still beholden to old habits. People try to swim forward in time as laws and policies drag them back toward an origin myth: becoming humans (or not) owning property (or not). LeMelle’s curatorial focus is on connecting with their own intuition, and is convinced that new possibilities emerge for joy, for longevity and for revelation when they can train their focus onto their own pleasure.
Swimmers Limb sees artist Tai Shani share watercolours from her latest series The Neon Hieroglyph where nine hypnotic stories form feminist mythology of psychedelics. For Shani, the psychedelic is a space that can drive new visions of society.
Design studio Comuzi Lab’s current focus is on digital healthcare services and learning to be intentional about care giving. Working on this exhibition from the design studio are Yaa Addae and Safiya McKenzie. In Swimmers Limb they call for contributions to their budding research on love and wellbeing.
Artist Mani Kambo will respond to Tai’s wall work with an immersive wallpaper design. Kambo works with symbols and iconography, assembling patterns and complex shapes into textile and print works. Tapping into her own ‘gut reactions’, she is teaching herself about human cells, living off the land, hallucinations, rituals, the transformative power of fire and the cleansing power of water.
Photo copyright Tim Bowditch