Daydreaming with Kubrick: Big-name Somerset House exhibition to reinterpret Stanley Kubrick's career

By Ben Miller | 16 June 2016

From a taxidermied snake by Polly Morgan to new music from Mick Jones, Beth Orton and Jarvis Cocker, a new exhibition will summon the spirit of Stanley Kubrick

A black and white photo of film director stanley kubrick looking sideways
© Warner Bros Pictures
A corridor carpeted in the floor colours of The Overlook Hotel, the sinister complex in which Jack Torrance went wild in The Shining, might be the most silently creepy of any exhibition entrée this year.  Patterning their work with block hexagonals, Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin are leading the way to a multi-artist Stanley Kubrick-inspired show later this summer, supported by Christiane, the director’s wife of 41 years, and curated by James Lavelle, the DJ whose music has often taken shadowy cinematic twists under his Mo’Wax label and UNKLE moniker.

Three more big-name musicians, Jarvis Cocker, Beth Orton and Elena Tonra of Daughter, appear in a 14-piece choir of singer-songwriters in film-makers Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard’s Requiem for 114 Radios, in which recordings of Dies Irae, the chilling composition from the opening credits of The Shining, will be broadcast over 114 vintage radios referencing the radiokit (CRM 114 Discriminator) in Dr Strangelove. The Shining has also sufficiently shaken up Gavin Turk to make him form a model of a maze of mirrors reflecting the hotel ledges and the illusion of losing one’s self.

Doug Aitken, Michael Nyman and Peter Kennard, too, turn to Dr Strangelove: Aitken’s Twilight is a public payphone bathed in a luminous glow, while Kennard takes on the Trident renewal programme by positioning politicians in place of the characters from the film’s war room. Nyman shapes a soundtrack set to recut scenes from the satire – echoing, he says, the terror he felt after first seeing the film in the late 1960s.

A black and white photo of a collage showing david cameron signalling to nuclear arms
Trident A Strange Love© Peter Kennard
For his part, Lavelle says his Kubrickian introduction arrived when he found 2001: A Space Odyssey at his local video store. “On the first viewing, the film blew my mind,” he recalls. “My love affair with Stanley Kubrick’s work began.”

Psyence Fiction, the first UNKLE album, recorded during the early 1990s, took Kubrick’s creations as a “massive” form of direction in numerous ways. “When it came to working on the single Lonely Soul, I tracked down a contact for Stanley via his assistant at the time, to ask if we would be interested in directing the music video for the track,” says Lavelle.

“I was surprised to hear that Stanley loved the idea but was immersed in the filming of Eyes Wide Shut, and I was asked to contact him after filming finished. Sadly, despite his interest in the song and the concept, our conversation was never concluded.”

A colourful image showing a man in an adidas tracksuit walking through a fiery street
The Creation of History (London, 8 August 2011) (2012)© Marc Quinn studio
Hanging from the ceiling in front of a large concave mirror, Haroon Mirza and Anish Kapoor’s typically skyward-looking Bitbang Mirror will re-enact Space Odyssey’s disorientating initial effect by sounding distant rumbles in front of a galactic screen. Mat Collishaw has made a spaceman’s helmet, and Samantha Morton has made a short film.

“What is fascinating to me is the extent of the impact Stanley had on me as a young artist of just 22,” says Lavelle. “I felt the need to track him and down and involve him in the universe I was trying to build.”

He wants to inspire what he calls a new generation of “Kubrick youth”. In a display which also contains new music from The Clash’s Mick Jones, the most unexpected approaches might catch the eye: a snake by taxidermist Polly Morgan, a phallic sculpture by Sarah Lucas (suggestive of the murder weapon in A Clockwork Orange) or even a scent by fragrance fashioner Azzi Glasser, described as evoking the usually undesirable sense of “cold, darkness and loneliness”.

  • Daydreaming with Stanley Kubrick is at Somerset House, London from July 6 - August 24 2016. Tickets £12.50/£9.50, book online. In partnership with Canon.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

A black and white photo of a woman in a space suit in a stanley kubrick exhibition
In and Out of Space© Charlotte Colbert
A photo of an artwork based on a clockwork orange by artist Paul Insect
A Clockwork Britain© Paul Insect
A photo of a redscale artwork based on a clockwork orange by artist Philip Castle
Philip Castle© Warner Bros Pictures
A black and white photo of film director Stanley Kubrick
© Warner Bros Pictures
A photo of an artwork appearing to be film director stanley kubrick's office
Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, Requiem for 114 Radios© Toby Farrow
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