This month sees the launch of a new exhibit ‘Autonomous Morris’ by British-Trinidadian artist Zak Ové at the newly re-opened Smithson Plaza – a project commissioned by international real estate developer Tishman Speyer, in collaboration with Vigo Gallery and Encounter Contemporary.
Standing at approximately 10-feet high and the largest mask completed by Ové to date, ‘Autonomous Morris’ is a motorised ‘Macco’ – a person who involves themselves in other people’s business for the purpose of gossip and posterity. It references the artist’s interest in the sculptural aspects of cars, using them to represent geographical movement, historical documentation, protection and nostalgia.
‘I’m fascinated by ideas around time travel, the spread of diaspora and the positive effects of colliding cultures. My sculpture highlights my belief in the power or play embodied in masquerade, to liberate a sense of self and provide an alternate or evolving creative space both personal and communal,’ said Ové.
‘Autonomous Morris’ is made entirely from discarded car parts including vintage Morris Minor bonnets, referencing the assumed British tradition of Morris Dancing, which in reality came to the UK courtesy of the Moors. As an unwitting monument to the recent news that the last VW Beetle is to roll off the production line next year, the sculpture’s organic lines and animated filmic representations add to the cultural potency of the material.
The artist added, ‘Autonomous Morris soaks up contemporary oral history and information, recording and storing as a “never forgetterer”. He listens to your aspirations, your pride, joy and anguish, acting as a receiver and archiver of memory.’
Smithson Plaza, originally designed by architects Alison and Peter Smithson, and recently renamed in their honour, has a long history of showcasing public artworks of leading artists including Sir Eduardo Paolozzi. A dynamic contemporary arts programme was originally established in 1964 when the Economist magazine first occupied the complex, and was re-introduced by Tishman Speyer upon its re-opening in June this year, following the first phase of its renovation by architects DSDHA.
‘Autonomous Morris’ is on display until February 2019 – Smithson Plaza, 25 St James’s Street, London, SW1A 1HJ.