Stills from the three-channel HD video Ribbons (2014)
© 2014 Ed Atkins


Ed Atkins

One of the most prominent artists of his generation, Ed Atkins works primarily with High Definition video and text, exploiting and subverting the conventions of moving image and literature. Centred around an augmented and appended version of the new multi-screen video work Ribbons, Atkins’s exhibition transforms the Serpentine Sackler Gallery into a submersive environment of syncopated sounds, bodies and spaces. This is his largest solo exhibition in a UK public institution to date.
Ribbons (2014) will have its UK premiere at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery in a site-specific adaptation. Presented alongside installations of text and images,
accompanying videos and tourettic interjections.

Posted 25 April 2014

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Ed Atkins
11 June – 25 August 2014
Serpentine Sackler Gallery
Realised with the generous support of the Lars Windhorst Foundation
underscore the ambivalent relationship that exists between real and virtual
objects; between real and virtual conditions.
Ed Atkins, said:
“The Sackler exhibition will re-possess some sort of sub-horror genre; the old
powder rooms, haunted by the phantom smell of gunpowder, paranoia and
anticipation of violence, will emphasise a particularly phantasmatic aspect of
Ribbons; the protagonist’s questionable corporeality, their presence, their
performance of loss and monstrousness”
Sounds from a suite of synchronised projections positioned throughout the
Gallery will lead the visitor through the space, with glimpses of song, swells of
orchestra, murmuring voices and waves of sub-bass. Ribbons is part musical,
part horror, and part melodrama; Bach’s Erbarme Dich and Randy Newman’s I
think it’s going to rain today are two of the songs featured. Naked, lonely and
misanthropic, the palpable melancholy of Atkins’s Computer Generated avatar
hero is ‘rendered’ as HD graphic, troll, voyeur and, perhaps, artist.
Julia Peyton-Jones, Director, and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-Director,
Serpentine Galleries, said:
“In ghostly echoes of a world where the digital has crept under our skin and
into our dreams, Atkins’s seamless mix of video, audio and text coalesce into a
deeply visceral examination of the contemporary experience of physical and
digital corporeality. While flickering HD screens and lonely avatars dominate
the Serpentine Sackler Gallery this summer, this exhibition by Ed Atkins
promises to be anything but two dimensional.”
Atkins’s work draws attention to the way in which we perceive, communicate
and filter information. His videos combine layered images with incomplete or
interrupted excerpts of singing, speech, subtitles and handwriting. Working
with a specialist in computer generated animation, Atkins exploits the
hyperreal surfaces produced by new software systems to create complex,
nightmarish environments populated by virtual characters, avatars of
ambiguous provenance and desires. Atkins has described the male figure that
appears in these works as ‘a character that is literally a model, is
demonstrably empty – a surrogate and a vessel’. Despite the emotive music
and poetic syntax of the protagonists, their emptiness serves to remind the
three-dimensional, warm-bodied viewer of their own physicality.

The experience of the physical body in Atkins’s show will be contrasted with
and complemented by the durational performance being undertaken by
Marina Abramovic, whose exhibition runs concurrently at the Serpentine

Serpentine Gallery
Serpentine Sackler Gallery
Kensington Gardens
UK-London W2 3XA
+44 (0)20-7402 6075

Installation view Ed Atkins, Kunsthalle Zürich, 2014
© Stefan Altenburger Photography Zurich

Stills from the three-channel HD video Ribbons (2014)
© 2014 Ed Atkins

Stills from the three-channel HD video Ribbons (2014)
© 2014 Ed Atkins

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