Designed for Life — Traces: Stories of Migration ⎟London
02 October 2023 - 19 January 2024
London College of Fashion (LCF), UK
Traces: Stories of Migration, touring from the Nunnery Gallery, pays homage to the layers of history in London's East End. The work on exhibition at LCF East Bank, the University of the Arts London new campus in Stratford, East London unfolded through a two-year program of community workshops, engaging over 70 local residents who, each in their own way, identify as an immigrant. Participants involved have shared stories of their migratory journeys, describing the complexity of making a home in a city marked indelibly by mobility and constant change. These stories are visible in "Story Cloths" made by each participant, alongside the Portrait Gallery, a new body of work by Lucy Orta on display in the main gallery of Designed for Life.
70 x 7 The Meal, Act XLV⎟Harewood
08 July 2023 - 09 July 2023
Harewood House, Leeds, UK
We are pleased to announce that the 45th act of the artists' ongoing project, 70 x 7 The Meal, will be held at Harwood House as part of The Big Harewood Garden Party on the weekend of 8-9 July 2023.
The project utilises 70 x 7 as a metaphor for meals that bring people together through the ritual of dining in uncommon settings. The symbol functions as a networking device, with each new instance creating a chain reaction of shared experiences and connections that extend beyond the individual events. 70 x 7 The Meal Act XVL on the Terrace at Harewood House draws inspiration from Lucy + Jorge Orta's 'Seed Manifesto', reflecting on the growth and life cycle of the seed. The newly commissioned Royal Limoges porcelain plates will place the seed as a central motif, while the table runner will showcase images and text collected as part of the workshops led by Lucy + Jorge Orta since January 2022. Art students from the University of Leeds will contribute to the design of the napkins, while the menu will be designed and prepared by students at Leeds City College, taking inspiration from the same theme. This table-setting becomes a discursive platform for diverse communities involved in the community engagement.
08 July 2023 - 22 October 2023
Harewood House, Leeds, UK
Seeds are hand-blown Murano glass pods, husks, kernels, flowering heads and pollens based on real and imaginary specimens that have been magnified to illuminate their beauty and provide a metaphor for community regeneration, growth and resilience. The exhibition ‘Seeds’ is presented in the Old Kitchen and Pastry Room, spaces that reflect the historic food related activities of the 18th century Harewood House. It follows the 45th activation of 70 x 7 The Meal, co-created with communities of Leeds to foreground the political and ecological aspects of food as well as an agent of community which can carry the potential of positive change.
Traces: Stories of Migration⎟London
02 June 2023 - 28 August 2023
Nunnery Gallery, London, UK
The Nunnery Gallery presents Lucy Orta. Traces: Stories of Migration an exploration into the diverse migration histories and stories woven into the landscape of east London. In partnership with London College of Fashion’s Making for Change as part of The Portal Centre for Social Impact, Lucy Orta engaged with eighty residents across east London over a two-year period, leading storytelling workshops and using the creative medium of textiles to develop artistic expressions through which first, second and third generation migrant histories and heritage have been honoured.
The exhibition showcases Lucy Orta’s new body of work, Portrait Gallery created in response to the community engagement. Lucy challenges the convention of portraiture using silk organza appliqué, hand and machine embroidery and beadwork to reflect the unique characteristics of each person involved in the workshops. The Portrait Gallery exposes a myriad of trajectories, the memories accumulated as people journey from one place to another recognising each persons’ lived experience.
Alongside Lucy’s work the exhibition presents a selection of Story Cloths made by participants. Accompanying the exhibition is a short film documenting the impact of the project and Needle Around Her Neck, a book of poetry inspired by the stories of migration written by author Nathalie Abi-Ezzi.
Downlaod the exhibition catalogue here.
The Lost Species Ritual⎟King's Cross
22 April 2023
Granary Building, London, UK
On Saturday 22nd April, the Granary Square in King’s Cross will become the stage for an intuitive, culturally rooted ritual to welcome in Earth Day 2023. Set against the backdrop of the three striking 60-foot Fabulae Naturae draperies adorning the Granary Building, the performance combines costume, dance and drumming to create a visual spectacle that blurs the boundary between body and architecture where the protagonists of the spectacle are ‘The Lost Species’: species that have gone extinct or whose symbolic meanings have disappeared from our collective imagination, or those that are invisible in urban environments.
Granary Square will be filled with rhythmic drumming and performers dressed in Lucy Orta’s immense circular skirts; lavishly coloured designs that mirror the intertwining lost species depicted on the draperies. In collaboration with Alexander Whitley Dance Company and the drummer Beanie, the performers transform the skirts into billowing sails that assemble the species into a joyous ritual, bursting with energy to re-wild the square.
The Lost Species has been commissioned by King’s Cross Artist in Residence Programme 2022-2023, with the support of UAL's Climate Emergency Network and Centre for Sustainable Fashion.
Seeking Blue Gold⎟Bologna
02 February 2023 - 12 February 2023
Oratorio di San Filippo Neri, Bologna, Italy
Seeking Blue Gold is a new site-specific installation by Lucy + Jorge Orta that takes shape beneath the dome of the Oratorio di San Filippo Neri in Bologna. Curated by Cristina Francucci and Tatiana Basso, Seeking Blue Gold is one of the main projects of ART CITY Bologna 2023 for the occasion of Arte Fiera, and part of the contemporary art programme at the Fondazione del Monte di Bologna e Ravenna.
The allocation and consumption of water—renamed “blue gold” a term that came to public attention after the documentary film based on the book by Claude Barlow (2003)—are central themes in the Ortas’ poetics, examined in light of the controversial and inequitable development, distribution, and access policies that affect this resource globally. With Seeking Blue Gold, we are asked to become aware of the complex universe disclosed by water. Wooden artifacts from a rural world in which they are still used in traditional irrigation form the centerpiece of the tripartite installation—mounted on steel structures along with contemporary crafted objects from the artists’ vast collection. The installation components arise as symbolic functional totems expressing the inexhaustible confrontation, at times the dichotomy between an ancestral image of the rural past, linked to natural rhythms and the exacerbation of the Baconian ideal of progress that, child of the West, that rages today in many developing countries.
Doors to Possible Worlds. Art & science-fiction | Metz
05 November 2022 - 10 April 2023
Centre Pompidou-Metz, France
For the first time in France, the Pompidou-Metz will unite the Connector Mobile Village sculpture for the major group exhibition, A Gateway to Possible Worlds. The utopian architectural structure envisions new modes of habitation with mobile and modular potential. The village connects individual personalized bivouacs to a system of linear modules and nodes. Its flexibility allows each individual to exert the freedom of choice, by connecting to or disconnecting reconfiguring into a multitude of formations.
The major project Antarctica will also be on view with a large installation of dome dwellings from the Antarctic Village - No Borders, each dwelling being hand stitched with sections of flags from countries around the world, along with extensions of clothes and gloves, symbolising the multiplicity and diversity of people. With Antarctica World Passport Office audiences can collect a copy of the world passport and become a member of the world community, acting to defend the environment and values of peace and equality.
Vita Extremis | Brussels
08 September 2022 - 12 November 2022
La Patinoire Royale | Galerie Valérie Bach, Brussels, Belgium
To celebrate thirty years of collaboration, Lucy + Jorge Orta are pleased to announce Vita Extremis, a monographic exhibition in the Great Nave of La Patinoire Royale
Coinciding with Brussels Gallery Weekend, the exhibition Vita Extremis curated by art and the environment expert Alice Audouin unveils their latest series of paintings and textile artworks entitled Fabulae Naturae, dedicated to flora and the preservation of biodiversity.
Vita Extremis is an opportunity to look back over their prolific thirty-years, situating Lucy + Jorge Orta’s practice in a trajectory that holds a mirror to society’s major challenges: water, climate, food, migration, and biodiversity. The meta-themes Antarctica, Amazonia, Life Guard, OrtaWater are portals reimagining ways of living, cohabiting and conserving. On view will be a selection of key artworks, as well as a participative action mobilising audiences around an eco-consciousness that enriches the commons through art.
Novacène | Lille
14 May 2022 - 02 October 2022
Gare Saint Sauveur, Lille, France
As part of the season Utopia, two sculptures by Lucy + Jorge Orta occupy the group exhibition 'Novacene' at the Gare Saint Sauveur, Lille. The theory of Novacene elaborated by scientist James Lovelock, supersedes the Anthropocene, as a new epoch where humans and artificial intelligence work in tandem to save the earth from destruction. The curators Jean-Max Colard and Alice Audoin, have selected the artists' machine-sculpture Zille Purification Unit capable of purifying water and the new Life Guard 'Fuoco' where the hybridisation of man and animal produces a new benevolent being.
Prendre la Tangente | Paris
25 February 2022 - 23 July 2022
MAIF Social Club, Paris, France
The exhibition Prendre la Tangente at MAIF Social Club is imagined as a great choreographed crossing at the heart of new imaginaries linked to travel. In this context, Lucy + Jorge Orta presents a new version of Antarctica World Passport Office, a component of the long-term research project Antarctica exploring topics relating to the environment, politics, autonomy, habitat, mobility and relationships among peoples. For the artists, Antarctica represents Utopia: a continent whose extreme climate imposes mutual aid and solidarity. The immaculate ice landscape is a filter for the kaleidoscope that make up our nations and multi-ethnic identities, concentrating the colours, races and creeds into the sum of light, and a vision of Hope.
Passport offices are constructed with reclaimed wood and found objects including boats, water recipients, suitcases, toys, that tower and bulge over rudimentary structures synonymous with the shanty town and border crossings that artists have traversed in some of remotest corners of the planet. From the passport office are delivered printed editions of the Antarctica World Passport, now totaling 72,000 copies. The passport office at the Maif Social Club was presented at the Pirelli Hangar Bicocca in Milan, Italy for the artists’ survey exhibition in 2008. Since, iterations have been created for museum exhibitions and United Nation forums on climate change and migration.
The MAIF Social Club have commissioned the 7th edition of the passport. For further details about the passport editions and registration process click here.
For a Contextual Art | Brussels
16 January 2022 - 26 February 2022
Frédérick Mouraux Gallery, Brussels, Belgium
For a Contextual Art is the first solo exhibition of Lucy + Jorge Orta in the Frédérick Mouraux Gallery, Brussels. The work on show provides insight into concepts that act as keystones of their collaborative practice.
The turbulent social and political landscape during the Argentine military regime from 1972-1984, marked Jorge’s formative years of practice. As well as exploring the new visual languages of performance, video-art, mail-art and tactile poetry, a new genre of painting served as a medium to counteract mounting injustices and to affirm a Latin American identity.
Divided into two, the first part of the exhibition presents four different series of coded paintings that evolved out of this particular context, Geometría Contextual 1972, Trazado De Indias and Triangular AAA both 1973, and Derrame from 1997. The second part includes editioned works –vitrines, tactile poems, reliquaries– that further the artists’ preoccupation with widening access to and reaching new audiences, through poetic objects that can be used on a daily basis.
Libero Spazio Libero⎟Bologna
15 January 2022 - 15 May 2022
Fondazione Del Monte, Bologna, Italy
Refuge Wear, conceived by Lucy Orta in response to the socio-economic crisis of the 1990s finds its resonance in this group exhibition Libero Spazio Libero curated by Fabiola Naldi. The work reveals the ephemeral nature of our being with respect to society and suggests we are simply an occupant within society and can easily be removed or alienated at will. The exhibition explores the disputed idea of free space where memory, identity, relationship with time, and space of one’s own experience transcend the idea of a dwelling in favor of an idea, of a capacity to go beyond the social conventional scheme. The crossing, as well as the ability to adapt and the possibility of overturning visual, cultural, and ideological structures, is intended as a paraphrase of the imaginative ability of the artworks by Claire Fontaine, Claudia Losi, Giulia Niccolai, Lucy + Jorge Orta, and Martha Rosler.
Diversity United | Berlin Moscow
23 November 2021 - 13 March 2022
New Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia
Contemporary Art from Europe
Diversity United is a major group show, which showcases the vitality and diversity of contemporary European art and emphasises the importance of intercultural dialogue. Featuring 90 European artists working across the genres of painting, sculpture, video and new media, photography, installation and drawing, the exhibition seeks to portray historically significant and relevant topics, including political and personal identity, migration, gender and equality issues, nationality and territory, geopolitics and social conflicts.
Lucy + Jorge Orta present Antarctic Village and Antarctica World Passport. The question this work poses today concerns our responsibilities as citizens, to protect the values of peace and equality; faced with the menacing forces of climate change we should strive to reduce our impact, to be united to tackle this greatest threat to humanity and our earth, and to curb the devastating effects will have on world stability. As the likelihood of mass-migrations it set to increase in the wake of climate related disasters, how do we assure the safeguard and dignity of victims is upheld? Climate Change has No Borders!
Diversity United is curated by Walter Smerling (Chairman Foundation for Art and Culture, Bonn) and Zelfira Tregulova (General Director Tretyakov Gallery) together with a consortium of international curators. For further information download the bi-lingual catalogue.
02 November 2021 - 10 November 2021
COP26 Glasgow and London, UK
To impart the aesthetic and symbolic power of collective action in the face of the climate emergency. A new activation of Nexus Architecture by Lucy + Jorge Orta will take place during COP26 with the participation of emerging artists and designers from Glasgow School of Art and University of the Arts London.
Drawing from this social sculpture first initiated in 1993, Studio Orta have produced 50 blank-canvas Nexus Architecture to be customised in simultaneous workshops, creating an interconnected chain of solidarity from Glasgow to London. Nexus Architecture is a potent manifestation of the philosophy behind Studio Orta’s practice, through its multiple manifestations across the globe. From South Africa, to the Americas and Asia, it recognises the interdependence between people forming a momentary network of being –a collective body– whose connections are rendered visible and visceral in time and space.
The customisation workshops will lead to performative manifestos in Glasgow's Reid Gallery on November 5, and in London in front of Tate Britain and Chelsea College of Arts, for the Parade for Climate Justice on November 10.
On November 5 from 5:30-6:30pm, Lucy Orta will be speaking at the French Pavilion, UN Climate Change Conference Scottish Event Campus, Blue Zone. The convening is organised by Art of Change 21 and includes speakers, Cédric Carles (Co-founder of Atelier 21, Paleo-Energetic and Solar Sound System), John Gerrard (artist), Gilles Vermot Desroches (Schneider Electric), moderated by Alice Audouin (Founder Art of Change 21).
Masking | Brussels
05 March 2021 - 08 May 2021
La Patinoire Royale | Galerie Valérie Bach, Brussels, Belgium
In the exhibition Masking presented at La Patinoire Royale|Galerie Valérie Bach until May 8, Lucy Orta brings to life the mask drawings started in response to the confinement due to COVID-19.
The drawing was an antidote, a way to overcome the anxiety caused by the pandemic. For many years, Lucy has archived images of masks from a wide spectrum of cultures and rituals. Taking advantage of this intense period of questioning and closer observation of the characteristics, she began by extracting the striking features to recompose drawings of new masks with infinite variations. These hybrid objects connect us across continents and cultures, rooted in ancient rituals and belief systems.
Thanks to the invitation of Studio Berengo, Lucy was able to give shape to her drawings in the glass furnaces of Murano. Using the medium of glass to express the duality of transparency and opacity, two densities that underline the concept of masking. Concealing and revealing at the same time, expressing an inner identity, a mask as a metaphor for the transformation of material reality into spiritual essence.
Download the exhibition catalogue here.
Interrelations | Amilly
10 October 2020 - 30 May 2021
Les Tanneries - Contemporary art center, Amilly, France
Interrelations is the title of this major solo exhibition of the work of Lucy + Jorge Orta at Les Tanneries centre for contemporary art which has been extended until May 30, 2021. The artists present their most recent work through a series of experimental gestures, which are emblematic of their collaborative practice since 1991. Created in situ, three large-scale installations –matrix sets– express feelings of urgency and hope, destruction and reconstruction, observation and reflection, realism and optimism.
The first, Fragments of History is articulated around an up-turned Saviem military lorry. Strewn aroud the truck are around fifty canvases of different sizes that evoke the action-paintings made by Jorge Orta during the dictatorial Argentina throughout the 1970s. Immersion and derrame techniques partially smear the figurative elements of their abstract essence and hence become sensitive and fragmentary metaphors of a vacillating world.
Life Line reactivates the artists' interest in the increasing fragility of human populations by associating a military ambulance with a large deployment of customised camp beds. These new Life Guards are designed as genuine individual refuges, echoing the Refuge Wear of Lucy Orta in the 1990s. While questioning the fragility and precariousness of the body and of human nature, the artist also underlines resilience and outbursts of solidarity.
Constituting the link both natural and symbolic between man and his environment, research on water cycles carried out by Lucy + Jorge Orta within the meta series OrtaWater are represented here through the Zille Purification Unit, a river “machine-architecture”, installed above the tanning vats of the original tannery. The work recalls the essential aspect of water in industrial activities and underlines its major role in the processes of population displacement. Lucy + Jorge Orta highlight the issues and challenges linked to the scarcity of drinking water while outlining the potential premises for a concrete solution.
With Interrelations, the artist duo offer a synthesis of their research through which the collective and collaborative dynamics of their work are highlighted, whether from a societal perspective or at the level of inception within the studio. Critical global issues be these climatic, migratory or geopolitical, incite Lucy + Jorge Orta to develop and explore a form of “total art”. They apply contextual, modular and operational practices and they are constantly on the move responding to a changing society. The artists question the potential and the limits of their ingenuity and adaptability, between concrete solutions and experimental utopias.
Green Currents | Paris
15 September 2020 - 31 January 2021
Fondation Groupe EDF, Paris, France
Green Currents curated by Paul Ardenne for the Fondation Groupe EDF unites an international roster of artists engaged in the ecological combat. Works presented explore the process of adaptation that humanity is currently undergoing and remind us of the essential role that art has to play in the climate transition, through its potential to ignite our imagination. Lucy + Jorge Orta present their latest work Symphony for Absent Wildlife, a film that draws together four performances staged in Banff National Park and the cities of Calgary, Milan and London, since 2014.
The film weaves a story of loss through the history of the point-blanket, an exchange commodity between First Nations peoples and the early European trappers and traders. The felt blanket was woven in the North of England and traded for beaver pelts in Canada, the resulting Capote gradually replaced the indigenous identity to install the notion of ‘democratic’ dress. Felt is also the material used for the orchestra’s costumes and masks designed by Lucy Orta. The masks are shaped to depict birds and animals connected with the spirit belief system of the indigenous peoples in Canada. These creatures –bison, wolves, eagles– hunted to near extinction, were once abundant across the Albertan plains. In the film, the quadrophonic symphony is played on simple wooden bird-whistles and recounts the cycle of disappearance, as the dawn-chorus closes with a heart-wrenching silence.
Unbreakable | Venice
05 September 2020 - 07 January 2021
Fondazione Berengo Art Space, Murano, Italy
In the exhibition Unbreakable: Women in Glass Lucy Orta brings life to mask drawings she began in response to lockdown, in March 2020.
Drawing was an antidote, a way to overcome the anxiety sparked by the Covid-19 pandemic. Lucy had been archiving images of masks from a diverse range of cultures for several years and she used this intense period of questioning to reflect on ways to embrace the mask in a more positive way. Observing their characteristics more closely, she began by extracting the defining features from the original source, to recompose drawings of new masks with infinite variations. Hybrid objects that connect us across continents and cultures, rooted in ancient rituals and spirit belief systems.
Thanks to an invitation by Berengo Studio, Lucy was able to give form to the drawings, working with the Maestros in the Murano glass furnace. Using the medium of glass to express the duality of transparency and opacity, two densities that emphasize the concept of masking. To conceal and reveal at the same time, to express an inner identity, a mask as a metaphor of transformation of material reality into spiritual essence.
Mariner | UK tour
23 January 2020 - 21 March 2020
The Edge & Andrew Brownsword Gallery, Bath, UK
Lucy + Jorge Orta present a new immersive audio-visual installation of Raft of Medusa for the exhibition Mariner: a painted ship upon a painted ocean, a contemporary response to Coleridge's famous poem: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. The Mariner tours from The Arts Institute, Plymouth and opens January 23, at The Edge.
The Mariner explores universal themes, from the desire to travel, the role of intuition and imagination, making mistakes and the process of recovery and redemption. It can also be understood as an ecological story, where knowledge, scientific understanding and tolerance offer a beacon of hope for our shared future. Inspired by the romantic depiction of the shipwreck Le Radeau de la Méduse (Théodore Géricault 1818-1819), Orta's Raft of the Medusa is a symbol of man’s fragility, helplessness and hope. Evoking the fateful journeys of slaves and migrants throughout history. View the film here.
THE HOODIE | Rotterdam
30 November 2019 - 28 June 2020
Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Drawing from Studio Orta’s archive, the Het Nieuwe Instituut have selected a series of large-format photographs of Lucy Orta’s Refuge Wear interventions from the early 1990’s to dialogue with a collection of objects and clothes that consider the role of the ‘hoodie’, as a carrier of socio-political messages. More info here.