* Originally published on May 5th on ALTLDN blog
Lights, neon and drama. The Other Art Fair was given a stroke of sleaze earlier in April when Lights of Soho put on a provocative exhibition.
The Other Art Fair is the bi-annual pop-up hub where the artistic, trendy and progressive go to splash their cash on obscure bits of art. It’s a got a little more mystery and quirk to its character than your usual haughty art fair and is famed for being wonderfully left-field.
Tickets went for £8 – £12 which seems a tad expensive considering you’re expected to buy something whilst there. But there’s a lot to take in and enjoy – should you wish to save your money.
This April, the fair was held at London’s distinguished Victoria House where designer-clad members of the fash-pack usually gather during London Fashion Week. On this occasion, the lower floor of Victoria House was transformed into an art-adorned labyrinth. Large canvas boards covered in contemporary artwork formed walls in the middle of huge rooms – it was a maze of craft.
28-year-old Rachael Powell – first time visitor to the exhibition – said, “There’s such a selection here and all the pieces are from artists who I’ve never even heard of. I was so excited to come and check it out!”
Performance art from Sarah Maple – curated by Comment is Free – highlighted the dark side of internet comment sections. Funny, rude and abusive comments were written on various sandwich boards – some of which were worn by Maple throughout the day. It was uncomfortable and deeply poignant.
Lights of Soho manager Louis Brown said, “I think people are drawn to the lights and are quite interested in the stories behind them. I think it’s the vibrancy of them, they are quite powerful and punchy pieces.”
From a darkened – almost secluded – section of the fair, dazzling neon lights beckoned onlookers. The exhibition itself was cordoned off with velvet ropes – giving it an almost seedy nightclub vibe. A glaring sign screamed ‘GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS’.
Brown said, “Neon lights have been used for decades now, especially for the adult establishments of Soho. The pieces used the same motifs as fairgrounds and subvert that in order to use it for adult entertainment,
They’re not passive pieces of art and they’re very engaging. They really do spark off a conversation.”
Pieces from Lights of Soho were priced at around £45 to £1800; more affordable printed designs were on offer as well as the lights themselves. Among some of the newest talent to be showcased was Dijon Dajee, who experiments largely with LED lights.
Dajee said, “The works are experiential in that they need to be seen to be understood. I think photographs are relied on too much in today’s world and are too easily compartmentalised on the basis of their image. I think that you need to involve some sort of human interaction with art.”
The Lights of Soho added a wonderful spark to The Other Art Fair, raising the profile of some great neon artists.
Brown said, “We always like to support these artists and give them the prominence that we feel they deserve.”