Floppy-hatted artist, architect and designer Ron Arad has given up his August holidays to present his giant ‘Curtain Call’ at the Roundhouse this month.
Artists of Arad’s choosing will project special new works onto his spectacular, circular silicon curtain. Viewers will walk in and out of the 5,600 rods that form the 18-metre ring in the middle of the main room and will be able to see the images from every angle. As the man puts it himself: “You’ll be engulfed by images – a captive, but also a creator. It’s amazing what exciting things happen on both sides of the curtain. I can’t wait.”
Arad has chosen a wide array of artists to participate, including Mat Collishaw (“the hard-working one of the YBAs” according to Arad), fashion radical Hussein Chalayan, popular animator David Shrigley and Royal College of Art alumni (Arad was Head of Design Products there until 2009). You’ll be put in the middle of bullfights, walk through tropical landscapes poisoned by diseased flowers and even see the Roundhouse distorted beyond all recognition, as if through a giant, abstracted mirror.
As well as these looped pieces, there will be special events, including a performance of Bach and Britten by cellist Steven Isserlis and a rude, funny live interaction with American author Jonathan Safran Foer. Then in collaboration with electronic Berlin label Innversions, The Roundhouse presents ‘An Evening At The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari’ on 19th August (tickets here).
Over a triangle sarnie, Arad told us all about his dangly structure.
Why did you choose these people to participate? I chose them because I had a chance to make a wish list and they’re people whose work I like and am interested in. I thought I could imagine what they might do here and none of them did anything remotely similar to what I thought they would do. That’s the beauty of it. I was surprised by things I hadn’t seen before.
What about the structure itself? It’s a very simple thing. There’s a ring and there are the silicon rods and there’s the projectors and it looks very simple but it’s very complicated. The silicon was done to our specification. We had to choose the transparency, the elasticity.
It must be very resilient if people are walking through it and even partying all around it at the music nights… It is. No-one can hang on it, because it’s so flexible, it’ll go to the floor. The stretchiness is the defence.
You’ve had the privilege to work with your wish list, but are there any people from the past who you would have liked to be involved? It would have been nice to ask Man Ray to do something or Marcel Duchamp or Claude Lelouch to do a remake of his C’était un Rendezvous, with a 360˚ camera that he didn’t have when he did his. We toyed with the idea of doing it ourselves, but it didn’t happen. There are lots of ideas that didn’t happen for some reason, but people who were approached to do their own piece didn’t take long to say, “Yes, please.”
Did you give them any brief at all? No, I just told them what we were doing and how it works. These people don’t need briefs. They don’t need me. It’s not really a collaboration.
Ron Arad’s Curtain Call is on at Roundhouse until 29th August.