In order to mark one hundred years since the Representation of the People Act that enabled all men and some women over the age of 30 to vote for the first time, Art on the Underground plans to commission a year-long program of women artists in 2018.
Art on the Underground, previously known as Platform for Art, is a visual arts showcase sponsored by London Underground, the public rapid transit system for England's capital. It invites artists to create projects that will be experienced by millions of people each day, ultimately changing the way the public experiences its city.
Inspired by the city’s diverse communities, the projects Art on the Underground endorses are also characterized by a rich variety of media, allowing artists to experiment with basically any technique or method they desire.
This year's Art on the Underground program gathers works by an international selection of women artists. It will put these talented female art figures at the forefront of public space that sees almost six million bypasses every single day.
The program will have mass presence across London - it will be unfolding on street level billboards, on the covers of over 25 million Tube maps and at the 80 meter long platform at Gloucester Road Station where an ambitious sculptural intervention shall take place.
Eleanor Pinfield, Head of Art on the Underground, enthusiastically explains the organization's 2018 plan:
The 2018 programme is an opportunity to bring artists of an international renown to the spaces of our city - not because of, or in spite of, or in celebration of gender. But, because these artists have powerful voices for today and question dominant power structures of the city in myriad ways.
The 2018 program will feature a lot of highlights worth looking forward to.
British artist Heather Phillipson will fill the 80-meter long disused platform at Gloucester Road station with a major sculptural intervention. Another artist from Britain, Linder, will commission a huge new billboard at Southwark station.
Romanian iconic figure Geta Brătescu and French artist Marie Jacotey will turn their attention to tube map covers. Finally, Nigerian-born artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby will focus on murals at Brixton station.
Throughout modern history, female artists pushed for social changes by questioning feminist identities, gender roles and sexual politics - now, following the recent and long-overdue appreciation of female artists at museums, Art on the Underground looks to take feminist artistic concerns a step forward by giving their works an entire year of public attention.
Aforementioned Eleanor Pinfield explains the program's feminist goal with the following statement:
Through 2018, Art on the Underground will use its series of commissions to reframe public space, to allow artists’ voices of diverse backgrounds and generations to underline the message that there is no single women’s voice in art – there are however many urgent voices that can challenge the city’s structures of male power.
Featured images: Heather Phillipson - 100 OTHER FIBRES, installation view at Cycle Festival, Iceland, 2016. Image courtesy the artist and Vigfus Birgisson; Geta Brătescu - Jocul formelor, Game of Forms, 2010. Photo credit, Stefan Stava. Courtesy of the artist, Ivan Gallery Bucharest Hauser Wirth; Heather Phillipson - TRUE TO SIZE, installation view at Arts Council Collection, 2016. Courtesy the artist and Arts Council Collection; Njideka Akunyili Crosby - Installation, Njideka Akunyili Crosby Portals. Victoria Miro, 16 Wharf Rd, London, 4 Oct–5 Nov 2016 © Njideka Akunyili Crosby. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro. All images used for illustrative purposes only.
During June 2018, Art on the Underground is planning to present a major project with British artist Heather Phillipson who will fill the platform at Gloucester Road station with a scene of avian calamity.
The theme of relationships between human and animals is a recurring theme in Phillipson's work. This time, she plans to focus on eggs, raising various questions about the way we conduct everyday life. The eggs at Gloucester Road station may discuss positive aspects of life like reproduction, birth and futurity, but they will also speak volumes about urgent concerns such as (over)production, consumption, exploitation and junk.
Featured images: Heather Phillipson, by Rory Van Millingen; Heather Phillipson - 100 OTHER FIBRES, installation view at Frieze Projects New York, 2016. Image courtesy the artist and Frieze Art Fairs.
For the 28th edition of the pocket Tube map, Art on the Underground commissioned Romanian nonagenarian artist Geta Brătescu to create a new artwork. Planned to be unveiled during the spring, this will be the artist's first public commission on the United Kingdom's soil.
A master of blending drawing, collage, tapestry, photography, graphic design, experimental film and performance, Geta Brătescu set her sights on the themes of gender and motherhood, staying true to this year's conceptual guideline of the Art on the Underground.
Featured images: Geta Brătescu, courtesy of the artist, Ivan Gallery Bucharest Hauser Wirth; Geta Brătescu - Linia, The Line, 2014. Photo credit, Stefan Stava. Courtesy of the artist, Ivan Gallery Bucharest Hauser Wirth
London-based French artist Marie Jacotey will certainly attract a lot of attention with her Art on the Underground commission - she'll be in charge of designing the 4th Night Tube map cover for Spring 2018.
Illustrated in colored pencil, crayon and pastel on paper whilst also interspersed with text, the work of Marie Jacotey is a snapshot of contemporary relationships and social interactions placed in comic-strip form. It's also deeply material when compared to standards of our screen-based time and age.
Featured image: Photo of Marie Jacotey, via metalmagazine.eu.
Nigerian-born and Los Angeles-based, Njideka Akunyili Crosby can safely be described as the 2018 project's definite highlight. For what will be her first commission in the new Brixton program, she will offer complex reflections on history, community and politics.
Through the use of photo-collage, Akunyili Crosby’s work masterfully explores her rich cultural identity, demonstrating strong attachments to the country of her birth and the affection for what's her current home.
Featured images: Njideka Akunyili Crosby, 2016 © Brigitte Sire. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London, Venice; Njideka Akunyili Crosby - Installation, Njideka Akunyili Crosby Portals. Victoria Miro, 16 Wharf Rd, London, 4 Oct–5 Nov 2016 © Njideka Akunyili Crosby. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro
A highly-regarded feminist figure of the Manchester's punk and post-punk scene, Linder was commissioned by Art on the Underground to create an artwork on a street-level billboard at Southwark station.
Planned to be launched alongside a cover design for the 29th pocket Tube map, the work Linder does for this year's program will be seen by millions of people on a daily basis.
Featured image: Linder - Outer Mound, 2012, photomontage, 27.6 x 20.5 cm.
Upon completing her 2018 Art on the Underground’s activity surrounding the new Northern Line Extension in South London, Nina Wakeford plans to undertake a two-year residency in the area.
An artist who can also be considered a sociologist by trade, she makes work that begins with what she thinks of as the unfinished businesses of past social movements.
Featured image: Nina Wakeford, image courtesy of Niki Cornish and Focal Point Gallery, 2017.