Critics’ Picks

James Balmforth, We Don’t Have Drawings, We Think and We Build, 2009, steel and oil paint, 77 x 39 x 4".


“One One One”

Unit 2, Hutchins Close Stratford
July 26 - August 23

In the midst of all the Olympics glamour that has swept London this summer, the pop-up gallery Annex East has been set up a stone’s throw from the Olympic Stadium. But despite practically being in the shadow of Anish Kapoor’s ArcelorMittal Orbit, the large-scale sculpture that Kapoor erected next to the stadium to commemorate the London 2012 Games, this space feels as though it is a world away.

It is in the spirit of being both apart from and a part of the Olympics—the simultaneous celebration of old and new—that “One One One” has been put together. The gallery itself is a converted warehouse space, and just as the Olympics has welcomed athletes from five participating continents to Stratford, Annex East has commissioned galleries from all across London—participants include Hannah Barry, Limoncello, Andor, COLE, and Millington | Marriott (which curated the show)—to submit a work responding to the Olympics, the area, and the space.

The show itself is pleasantly eclectic. James Balmforth’s steel sculpture We Don’t Have Drawings, We Think and We Build, 2009, stands imposingly at the entrance to the gallery, its titular sentence aptly painted on its side as a symbol of the newly built arts hub that now houses it, as well as of the huge feat of construction, the stadium, that sits not far away. Oliver Michaels’s video projection Something Else Out There, 2010, is a surreal reinterpretation of the museum-postcard souvenir; in it, a chimp has been digitally enhanced to speak at the viewer, and the work seems to satirize the kitsch memorabilia being sold in the London 2012 Shop, a souvenir store dedicated solely to London 2012 Olympic Games paraphernalia. Then, in a darker vein, Neil Rumming’s Coming & Coming, 2010, depicts neatly severed fingers—an arresting, disjointed image, and a reminder that the area’s gentrification was preceded by destruction on a large scale that included the demolition of 193 businesses and 450 homes, and the relocation of a traveler community of thirty-five families.