soho’s club closures and more in prem sahib’s new art show
The artist - currently showing at the ICA – opens a concurrent exhibition at Southard Reid in Soho.
Boarded-up venues are an increasingly common sight in Soho, with clubs, bars and indie cafes closing all over the place. So when artist Prem Sahib had the opportunity to take over the entirety of the Southard Reid Gallery in the area, he decided to shutter it up, with just a fading neon outside signalling life. "Rather than filling it, I want to use it, " he told i-D when we interviewed him in advance of both shows. "As soon as I realised that I was thinking about venues closing, or this idea of closure, it made sense to then offer it as an invitation to people. I had a compulsion to board the building for some reason, and the more I walked around Soho, I started to notice a lot of venues had been boarded up and were closed. When I did my last show there, Bump, I was responding to the gallery being in Soho and all this nightlife around me. But now, two years later, so many places have closed."
Inside, Prem has created benches around the entirety of the room, which he worked on with his boyfriend, designer Xavi Llarch Font, "to position the work so that people might be able to sit in relation to others." There are also rubber and steel sculptures that mimic mounted kitchen roll, which could suggest something domestic or clinical, or - knowing some other of Prem's works - perhaps also the gay sauna 'clean up'.
Prem decided to advertise the show in Soho's traditional free gay scene magazines, Boyz and QX. "I wanted to keep it really local. Just a small, unassuming quarter page advert. I want the advert to be quite cryptic, so it'll just be the motif with the words 'End Up' and the address of the gallery and the time they're open. It's about being able to plant this seed of suggestion and see what happens. It's an invitation, and I like the idea of putting something out and just allowing it to disperse and see what the response is. The ICA show is about the absence of bodies, whereas here I wanted social space and bodies there." Copies are stacked by the door, in the exact same way they're displayed in gay venues across the capital.
Prem Sahib, End Up is open until 14th November at Southard Reid.
Image courtesy the artist and Southard Reid.
Photography Lewis Ronald.