Perpetual Canon 2004 Collection of Contemporary Art Fundación “la Caixa”, Barcelona © Cornelia Parker
In May 2022, Tate Britain will present the first major survey of Cornelia Parker’s works in London. One of Britain’s leading contemporary artists, Parker transforms everyday objects into extraordinary works of art. Through visual allusions and metaphors, Parker’s works explore contemporary issues such as violence, human rights and environmental disaster. The exhibition will bring together over 90 artworks spanning immersive installations, sculptures, film, photography and drawing, to celebrate the breadth of Parker’s highly experimental and wide-ranging career to date, including two new works shown for the first time.
Thirty Pieces of Silver (Exposed), 2015 Courtesy the artist and Cristea Roberts Gallery © Cornelia Parker
Cornelia Parker first came to prominence in the late 1980s creating large-scale suspended installations and sculptures, this exhibition will include several of her best-known early works including Thirty Pieces of Silver 1988-89, an installation of flattened silver objects including teapots, candle sticks and dinnerware collected from charity shops and car boot sales; and Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View 1991, a garden shed frozen at the moment of explosion, its fragments surrounding a single lightbulb.
Cornelia Parker War Room 2015 Image © the Whitworth, The University of Manchester. Photography by Michael Pollard
Examples of Parker’s more recent room-sized works will be included, such as War Room 2015, created from the reams of perforated red paper negatives left over from the production of British Legion remembrance poppies, and Magna Carta (An Embroidery) 2015, a thirteen-metre long collectively hand-sewn embroidery of a Wikipedia page, which involved over 250 volunteers including public figures, human rights lawyers, politicians and prisoners.
Avoided Object Photographs taken on the sky above the Imperial War Museum with the camera that belonged to Hoess, commandant of Auschwitz, 1999 Courtesy the artist and Frith Street Gallery, London © Cornelia Parker
The exhibition will spotlight Parker’s hugely inventive works on paper, including drawings, photographs and prints, as well as her more intimate sculptural objects. Highlights include the Avoided Object 1999 photographs of clouds, taken on a camera once owned by an Auschwitz commandant; and the inkblot Pornographic Drawings 1995-2006, created from dissolved video tapes confiscated by HM Customs and Excise.
Election Abstract (video still) 2018 Courtesy the artist and Frith Street Gallery, London © Cornelia Parker
Politics is a key theme in many of the artist’s works, and in 2017 Parker was the first woman to be appointed official artist for the General Election. In this role, she observed the election campaign leading up to the 8 June vote, meeting with politicians, campaigners and voters and producing artworks in response. Several films made during this period will be shown in a cinema room within the exhibition, including Left Right & Centre 2018, filmed by a drone at night in the House of Commons; and Election Abstract 2018, a documentation of Parker’s observations during the campaign, posted on her Instagram account. Other film works include Made in Bethlehem 2012-13, depicting a Palestinian father and son as they weave thousands of barbed crowns ahead of the influx of Easter pilgrims, and Chomskian Abstract 2007, an interview with the American social critic and philosopher Noam Chomsky about the intwined relationship between ecological disaster and capitalism.
The Distance (A Kiss with String Attached) 2003 Image courtesy the artist, The Whitworth, The University of Manchester and Frith Street Gallery, London © Cornelia Parker Photograph: Michael Pollard
Several of Parker’s artworks including sculptures, textile-based works and video, will go beyond the confines of the exhibition and into Tate Britain’s collection galleries, presented alongside the historical works they reference. Room for Margins 1998, an installation of the stained canvas linings and tacking edges of Turner paintings (removed by Tate conservators after a flood in 1928) will be hung in the dedicated Turner galleries at Tate Britain. The Distance (A Kiss with String Attached), 2003, Parker’s provocative dialogue with Rodin’s famous Kiss, will greet visitors on arrival at the Millbank entrance.
For more information or to book tickets, visit the Tate Britain website here
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