With Unreal Estate (the Royal Academy is yours), Lawrence Lek combines institutional critique with Game Art. In his dystopian-and-yet-utterly-realistic machinima, the London Royal Academy of Arts has become a privately owned luxury estate. Art world types - an oligarch, a business tycoon, a collector - make an appearance amidst Anish Kapoor's giant scultpure. Created for an exhibition at the RA, the site-specific installation is accompanied by a soundtrack by virtuoso cellist Oliver Coates and a voiceover of a found text from Russian Tatler magazine, translated into Mandarin by Joni Zhu. Lek's work has been shown in several countries including Australia, Hungary and China.
By placing his viewers, who with all statistical likelihood are mostly not billionaires, in the shoes of one, Lek also plays on the neoliberal ethic of extreme self-sufficiency. Perhaps, we think, if we work unimaginably hard, everything is attainable: land, culture, one of the most respected museums in the world. Through this fantasy of disembodied ownership, the viewer is forced to contend with whether she believes in it in real life. Interestingly, Unreal Estate was shown in the Royal Academy itself. Viewers remarked that they had a new feel for the familiar interior after having experienced the space as "owners." (Khan, 2015)
Lek's artworks have been hosted by the V&A, SPACE, Barbican, Art Licks, the Delfina Foundation. Born in Frankfurt in 1982, Lek is currently doing a residency at The White Building in Hackney Wick, England. Unreal Estate is part of Bonus Levels, an ongoing series of "fictions (that) draw from the language of architecture and cinema to explore altered states of presence and memory that exist in digital space." The full series is available online.
Addendum: Composed by Oliver Coates (Towards the Blessed Islands, 2013), the fascinating Unreal Estate OST is available through SLIP (Laurie Tompkins & Tom Rose), an experimental publishing imprint located in London & Berlin "which negotiates the fringes of new instrumental and electronic music". Unreal Estate OST is available digitally from November 2015, alongside a limited-edition A1 poster designed by Lawrence Lek and Tom Rose. Here's more:
Unreal Estate’s eerie landscape is underpinned by a soundtrack from cellist and composer Oliver Coates. Coates’ cello chorales are both tender and stark; glossy Reichian quavers, elephantine bass lines and cultivated waltzes reverberate within the gallery’s imaginary walls. Interspersed amongst Coates’ themes are selections from Unreal Estate’s narrator, whose advice to potential investors comes from a found text from Russian Tatler, translated into Mandarin by Joni Zhu. (SLIP)
LINK: Lawrence Lek
LINK: Oliver Coates
Submitted by Matteo Bittanti