Penny Woolcock: Fantastic Cities
Fantastic Cities is the first major art exhibition of artist and director Penny Woolcock (b. 1950, Buenos Aires), an unparalleled pioneer in contemporary visual culture in the UK.
Woolcock, who began her artistic practice in Oxford in the 1970s, is widely celebrated for her creatively incisive approach to exploring issues of social inequality. Her award-winning work, both compassionate and challenging, centres on personal stories of how power and influence impact marginalised communities.
Fantastic Cities presents ‘parallel worlds’ through intimate accounts of real urban experiences that often go unheard, at times layered together with fantastical tales from literature, film and music. This exhibition invites visitors to engage with unfamiliar narratives, to explore how people weave together stories to make sense of intense emotional response to city life.
As well as bringing together pivotal moments from the artist’s early career in Oxford, this exhibition presents five new commissions created in 2018: The Same Road is a Different Road, a dynamic new film installation that presents the startlingly different responses of two individual narratives, one the artist and the other a young gang member, on a short walk through the same city streets; When I First Saw A Gun, honest personal accounts of gun use from a diverse range of people; Big Girl an intimate installation that portrays the artist from birth to adolescence; and new films depicting two cities, Dreaming Spires (Oxford) and La La Land (Los Angeles), famously represented by fictitious narratives created through film and literature. Fantastic Cities explores the idea that, for many, the lived experience of these cities may at times be more unexpected that fiction.