The Tate Britain will present British contemporary artist Mark Leckey’s new large-scale exhibition O’ Magic Power of Bleakness, starting September 24, 2019. The London exhibition, which will be on view till January 5, 2020, will include new as well as existing works by the artist - combining spectral visions, sound and video to create an overall theatrical experience for the viewers. The exhibition has been curated by Clarrie Wallis, Senior Curator of Contemporary British Art; Elsa Coustou, Curator of Contemporary British Art; and Aïcha Mehrez, Assistant Curator of Contemporary British Art at Tate.
The highlight of the exhibition will be a life-size replica of a motorway bridge on the M53, near where the artist grew up. Leckey has constantly been inspired by the bridge, which has been a recurring element in his work over the course of his artistic career. The bridge, this time, will take on the setting for a new audio play. Focusing on a group of teenagers, the play is inspired by folklore, particularly stories of changelings and ‘fairy raids’, and by the artist’s own pre-adolescent experiences.
Moving image will be the key element of the exhibition. Older video works including Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore (1990) and Dream English Kid 1964 – 1999 AD (2015) will be showcased along with the new works. The film Fiorucci consists of a compilation of footage from dance floors, chronicling Britain’s underground club scene from the 1970s to the 1990s. The film originally resulted from a chance encounter with Emma Dexter, who was the curator of the Institute of Contemporary Arts at the time, now Director of the visual art division at the British Council. A conversation about the most exciting forms of art at the time led to Leckey’s argument in favour of music videos. Dexter, subsequently invited him to make a work, which resulted in the 15-minute film that almost immediately resulted in Leckey’s rise to fame.
The exploration of the nostalgia of youth has since been a recurrent theme in Leckey’s work. In Dream English Kid, memories of the artist’s life, especially those from the years between 1960s and 1990s, are explored through material found predominantly online, inspired by Leckey’s discovery of a YouTube video showing a Joy Division gig he attended as a teenager. Each film charts a key period in the artist’s life and in technological advancement, in particular the shift from analogue to digital.
Winner of the Turner Prize in 2008 for his work Industrial Light and Magic, Leckey has been one of the instrumental artists working on the relationship between technology and pop culture. Prominent themes of his work include the subjects of youth, class and nostalgia. He works across media combining music, video, collage and found object art.
One of the most prominent British artists of today, he has exhibited widely across the world and his works are in the permanent collections of the Tate, London and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.