Space Shifters: Your Instagram images from 'the most Instagrammable exhibition'

‘Is this the year’s most Instagrammable exhibition?’ asked Hettie Judah in her review of our new Hayward Gallery show, Space Shifters, for the i. Two weeks in, and with our Instagram notifications pinging away like an office microwave at lunchtime, there certainly seems to be a strong argument for answering Judah’s question in the affirmative.

Bringing together the work of 20 different artists, Space Shifters features innovative, minimalist sculpture from the 1960s, as well as recent works that extend the legacy of this ‘optical’ minimalism in different ways, and a number of commissions which have been made in response to the architecture of the Hayward Gallery. With many of the artworks constructed from translucent or reflective materials - enabling us to see our surroundings in new and unexpected ways - it’s not hard to see why so many people visiting the exhibition have been reaching for their smartphones to capture their experience.

So, instead of sharing more of our own images of this remarkable exhibition, we thought why not let you convey its appeal for us? Here, for your visual enjoyment, are some of our favourites from your Instagram images of Space Shifters so far.


Fred Eversley Untitled (Parabolic Lens) (1971)

The violet, amber and blue Untitled (Parabolic Lens) (1971) was made by Aerospace engineer turned artist, Eversley, using a repurposed turntable originally used by the American military.



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Ann Veronica Janssens Magic Mirrors (Pink #2 and Blue) (2013-2017)

Janssens's Magic Mirrors (Pink #2 and Blue) consist of shattered panes of 'safety glass' held between sheets of intact glass. A filter between the panes allows light to pass through the panes selectively, with the result that the light they cast and the reflections on their surfaces are different to what we expect.



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Anish Kapoor Sky Mirror, Blue (2016)

Situated on one of Hayward Gallery's outdoor sculpture terraces, this concave mirror achieves the contradictory feat of bringing the sky down to the ground.



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Monika Sosnowska Handrail (2016-18)

Sosnowska’s Handrail (2016–18) is first encountered by the visitor two-thirds of the way up Hayward Gallery’s back staircase, where it wraps itself, vine-like, around the existing rail before taking off across the gallery wall in an energetic dance.



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Richard Wilson 20:50 (1987)

For this installation, first presented in Matt’s Gallery, London, Wilson floods an entire room with used engine oil, leaving only a narrow passageway through the centre.



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Jeppe Hein 360° Illusion V (2018)

For 360° Illusion V (2018), Hein placed two large mirrored panels at right-angles to one another. As well as reflecting the surrounding environment, each mirror also reflects its twin.



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Felix Gonzalez-Torres "Untitled" (Golden) (1995)

Exhibited floor-to-ceiling, Gonzalez-Torres’s "Untitled" (Golden) creates a shimmering threshold through which every visitor must pass.



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Alicja Kwade WeltenLinie (2017)

In WeltenLinie, Kwade creates the impression of sudden and surprising material transformations through the use of double-sided mirrors and the careful placement of objects.



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Yayoi Kusama, Narcissus Garden (1966-2018)

First staged as a large-scale, unofficial intervention at the 1966 Venice Biennale, Narcissus Garden (1966–2018), consists of hundreds of stainless steel reflective orbs.



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Space Shifters is at Hayward Gallery until Sunday 6 January 2019. 
Hayward Gallery is open 11am – 7pm every day, except Tuesdays when the gallery is closed, with late night opening on Thursdays until 9pm.

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Tokyo by Andreas Gursky

Over the course of more than 30 years – almost the entirety of his career – Gursky has argued that purely documentary styles of representation are no match for the world’s complexity. ‘Reality can only be shown by constructing it’, he claims, and ‘montage and manipulation’ paradoxically bring us ‘closer to the truth’.

Andreas Gursky, Tokyo (2017)
Copyright: Andreas Gursky/DACS, 2017 Courtesy: Sprüth Magers

The artist began working with digital post-production in 1992, often using computer software to edit and combine shots taken with a film camera. As well as combining multiple different images to make a single work, he also uses editing software to remove, add or emphasise certain elements of his compositions.

Recently, Gursky has described the relationship between construction, documentation and authenticity in his work as similar to the way that we might recall a landscape glimpsed from a moving vehicle: ‘You look out of the window and get an impression, but when you write it down it will be what you imagine’, he explains.

This image of a Tokyo neighbourhood is constructed from the details of dozens of individual shots taken from the window of a high-speed train. While the foreground of this image is predictably out of focus, Gursky has also inserted blurry passages in the middle of the picture, prompting us to question what we are seeing and to look again.

more on the Gursky exhibition  

Pyongyang VI by Andreas Gursky

Following his image of a crowd of traders on the trading floor in Tokyo, Stock Exchange (1990), Gursky has continued to capture crowds at work and at play, not least in his May Day series (1997–2006), which depicts an annual rave that takes place in Dortmund, Germany. 

Andreas Gursky, Pyongyang VI , 2007/17
Copyright: Andreas Gursky/DACS, 2017 Courtesy: Sprüth Magers

In Pyongyang VI (2007/17), Gursky turns his attention to a very different kind of collective activity. The Arirang Festival, or Mass Games, is a vast gymnastic and artistic event that takes place in North Korea’s capital city Pyongyang.

The Games are held each year in honour of the previous dictator, Kim Il-sung. Gursky photographed the event – which features around 100,000 people including 70,000 gymnasts and over 30,000 school children – from an elevated altar dedicated to Kim Jong-il, in 2007.

The artist has recently returned to the subject, and reviewed previously unpublished material, due to the current political situation in North Korea.

more on the Gursky exhibition

Utah by Andreas Gursky

This vast, cinematic work was inspired by a photograph that the artist took on his phone through the window of a moving car. It depicts a paradoxically ‘wild’ but mediated landscape that has provided the backdrop for science fiction films, westerns and road movies.

Utah (2017)
Copyright: Andreas Gursky/DACS, 2017 Courtesy: Sprüth Magers

The apparent spontaneity of the image, its out-of-focus passages and odd glitches, sets it apart from almost all of Gursky’s previous work. With Utah (2017) Gursky has fashioned a monumental homage to the mobile phone photo – casual, immediate, disposable – and the outsized role it plays in today’s visual culture.

Utah is one of eight new works by Andreas Gursky that are on display for the first time.

more on the Gursky exhibition 

Klausen Pass by Andreas Gursky

During the 1980s, while studying at the Düsseldorf Art Academy under Bernd and Hilla Becher, Gursky made a series of photographs of people engaged in leisure activities in and around Düsseldorf. Many of these early works explore the relationship of human beings to their environment, and the way that the landscape has been altered or controlled by its human inhabitants.

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The figures in these early works often appear at odds with their environment, dwarfed by the structures – natural or man-made – that they find themselves beside. 

This is the case in Klausen Pass (1984), an image that the artist took at the request of a friend during a journey through the Swiss Alps. The figures in this image are arranged in what Gursky describes as a ‘perfect constellation’ across a hillside – a fact that the artist only noticed when he enlarged the negative, long after the photograph was taken. With Klausen Pass, Gursky discovered how he could use a distanced perspective to explore the relationship between human beings and their environment.

Gursky exhibition page

Salerno I by Andreas Gursky

In the 1990s, Gursky began to photograph the built environment, turning his attention to labour, scenes of industry and to large-scale environments or structures that he refers to as ‘aggregate states’ – a whole made up of repeating elements. Salerno I (1990) – which captures a busy harbour basin in an Italian port town – is a pivotal image for the artist.

Salerno I by Andreas Gursky

As he explains: ‘Salerno represented a change in direction. The thematic and completely straightforward moment’ was replaced with a ‘more abstract point of view.’ This abstraction is achieved by technical means: ‘By retreating further back from the subject and using a light, telephoto lens, the image composition becomes flatter, foreground and background merge into a single entity’. To the artist, this perspective is ‘democratic’: each element of the image is given equal importance.

Gursky exhibition page

The 2017 World Press Photo Exhibition returns to Southbank Centre

The 2017 World Press Photo Exhibition returns to Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall for the 21st year from 3–20 November 2017 . The free exhibition brings together 152 winning photographs from the annual World Press Photo Awards, showcasing some of the most powerful, emotional and often disturbing press images of the year.

In its 60th year, the World Press Photo Awards continues to be the premier annual international competition for press photography and multimedia storytelling. This year’s winners were drawn from a bank of 80,408 images taken by 5,034 photographers from 125 countries. The exhibition at Southbank Centre will be the only display in England, however the winning photographs travel together to 45 countries and are seen by more than four million people each year. The subjects of the images on display are widely varied including documentation from rallies protesting police brutality, reports from war-torn terrains and striking images selected from nature and sports editorial.

Read the full press release

Annie Leibovitz on Women

On Sunday 22 October Annie Leibovitz joins us at Southbank Centre to discuss her new work Annie Leibovitz: Portraits 2005-2016, as part of London Literature Festival. Ahead of her appearance here we take a moment to look at her previous work on Women, a project Leibovitz has taken to view as being forever incomplete.


In 1999 Annie Leibovitz, in collaboration with partner Susan Sontag, put together Women, a collection of female portrait photography, to acknowledge and celebrate the status, the achievements, and the roles of women at the end of the 20th Century.

The subject of the photographs, taken especially for the book, occupy a broad spectrum. They include farmers, coal miners, showgirls, movie stars, a surgeon, a general, a rap artist and the secretary of state. Individual photographs, which carry a collective message, as Sontag explained in the book’s accompanying essay.

Each of these pictures must stand on its own. But the ensemble says, So this what women are now - as different, as varied, as heroic, as forlorn, as conventional, as unconventional as this.
Susan Sontag, Women, 1999

However, despite receiving significant and just acclaim, it was a project which the Leibovitz felt should never stand still. ‘It really resonated’ she told New York Times in 2016, but ‘the project was never done.’ This sense of the project as being open-ended, something of a starting point with no determinable end, is perhaps inevitable, given Leibovitz’ own oft-quoted admission that she is never not a photographer.

One doesn’t stop seeing. One doesn’t stop framing. It doesn’t turn off and turn on. It’s on all the time.
Annie Leibovitz

And so, seventeen years on, came a continuation to that initial project, Women: New Portraits, an exhibition featuring a whole new collection of portraits for a whole new generation of women. Celebrities, CEOs, activists, even Queen Elizabeth II herself are committed to canvas by Leibovitz as she continues to chart the changing notion of what it is to be a woman.

This time, that sense of fluidity, of a work never finished was brought more keenly to the fore, as Leibovitz took the exhibition around the globe, and continued to expand it with every stop. In all Women: New Portraits visited ten cities, from San Francisco to Singapore, with Leibovitz photographing prominent women from each one, cementing the idea of a work in progress and brilliantly fusing the old with the new.

You can’t look at all those images without seeing the true human diversity of women, not characterised by whatever feminine idea or roles of who we’re supposed to be.
Gloria Steinem, journalist and activist, who assisted Leibovitz with Women: New Portraits

To drop convention and further bring women, and the female voice, to the fore Women: New Portraits was hosted not in museums or galleries, but in historically rich pop-up sites - such as Wapping Hydraulic Power Station, London, and the former Bayview Correctional Facility, New York. Here the audience was invited to join Leibovitz and activist Gloria Steinem, who assisted in compiling the exhibition, in ‘talking circles’ on their experiences, conversations which ranged from sexual violence against women in Mexico City to the experience of women in San Francisco’s tech industry.

"WOMEN: New Portraits" – A look behind the lens: Zurich

When the initial book, Women, was conceived its aim was, as Sontag explained, to defy the tradition of photographing women for their beauty rather than their character. With Women: New Portraits that notion, though not lost, had advanced. ‘The imagery of women has to catch up with the imagery of men,’ Leibovitz told New York Times ahead of the exhibition’s showing in Manhattan. Though the exhibition’s tours are now over, you sense the project will remain alive so long as we have Leibovitz.


Annie Leibovitz comes to Southbank Centre on Sunday 22 October, to discuss her new work Annie Leibovitz: Portraits 2005-2016, as part of London Literature Festival.

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Meltdown festival, in your photos

From its very conception this year's Meltdown, was always set to be like no other. Taking the reigns, M.I.A. promised to deliver a festival that pushed boundaries. And the curator hasn't disappointed, offering up a Meltdown that’s crackled with life and combined pulsating hip-hop with poignant installations.

We saw people of all ages and backgrounds descend on Southbank Centre for the festival, and share their experience via #MeltdownFest. So to showcase some of what went on at Meltdown, it seemed only apt to do so through the images of those who were here to experience it.


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For the duration of Meltdown, Southbank Centre underwent a distinct makeover, decked out with M.I.A.’s distinct iconography and colourways - a look which also gave up plenty of opportunities for selfies and photos.


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It all kicked off on Friday 9 June, as Mercury-Prize winning trio Young Fathers got things off to a flying start, delivering an emphatic set that was monochrome in appearance, but proved a riot in sound.

Like Young Fathers, Soulwax too opted for a set of limited colour, as they took to the Royal Festival Hall stage. Flanked with three drummers, the duo performed tracks from their latest album Deewee in a barrage of white light.


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Meltdown isn’t just about the music however, it’s also brought a number of installations to Southbank Centre. These included Propa Tee, an exhibition in our Archive Studio, curated by M.I.A, Remi Kabaka and Harris Eliott, which showcased 40 years of music t-shirts.


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Project Refuge/e was an exhibit of a more poignant nature. A tent-like shelter built from the same materials as those made available to refugees, it gave a first-hand sense of the lives of people who have been forced to flee Syria.


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Extending this tie to refugee life in the Middle East, Seenaryo’s Beirut Party enabled revellers here at Southbank Centre to join a gig attended by refugees of Syria and Palestine as it was live-streamed from Riwaq Cafe in Beirut.


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Not content with taking over the inside of Royal Festival Hall, Meltdown has also spread out onto Riverside Terrace, and in the weekend sunshine rocked to a distinctly Caribbean beat as Just Vibez Carnival took over with music, flags and phenomenal costume.

As the festival has spread outside, it's also brought the sounds of the streets inside, starting on Sunday night as french rapper MHD brought the Afro Trap sound he’s pioneered to Southbank Centre.


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And on Monday, this was followed up by something much more local, as Peckham’s own Giggs brought Grime to the Royal Festival Hall stage for a performance that had the press falling over themselves to give four star review after four star review.


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We gave the Royal Festival Hall a night off on Tuesday, but it returned with a bang - not to mention a hell of a lot of light - on Wednesday courtesy of Swedish rapper Yung Lean. The twenty-year-old from Stockholm delivered an incredible-looking show, for one of the festival’s youngest audience.


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Another night, another genre as Meltdown’s seventh day was headlined by a dancehall and reggae double-header courtesy of I Wayne and Dexta Daps.


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Beats were the order of the day on Friday; hip yet hefty beats as the festival’s second weekend kicked off with the lo-fi electro of Crystal Castles (above), before moving downstairs to keep the party going with a club night courtesy of Awful Records (below)


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Already huge in the US, where she can count such heavyweights as Beyonce and 50 Cent among her fans, Young M.A brought her everyday rap to the Royal Festival Hall stage for an emphatic UK debut.


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And on Saturday as with Friday there was no cause for the night to end when the Royal Festival Hall lights came on as once again Meltdown bounced on in the Clore Ballroom, where the stage alone wasn’t enough to contain Mykki Blanco during his gig with JD Samson.


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Quick shout out to East London community radio station Rinse FM who kept the festival vibe going throughout the ten days of Meltdown, broadcasting live from our Community Cube.


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But all good things must come to an end, and on Sunday evening Meltdown’s curator, M.I.A., took to the stage to bring the curtain down on her own festival, in her own inimitable style. Fences, dancers, confetti and stage invasions; it was a full-on performance that gave a fitting end to a Meltdown which M.I.A. had always promised would challenge convention.

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For more photos and videos from Meltdown, and other Southbank Centre events, join us on Instagram.

Andreas Gursky

© Andreas Gursky/DACS, 2017. Courtesy: Sprüth Magers
The first major UK retrospective of the work of acclaimed German photographer
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25 Jan 2018 – 22 Apr 2018
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