It’s always exciting to discover a new bar or restaurant has popped up on your doorstep. The same applies to a new art gallery opening in your area.
At least that’s how I felt when I discovered that an acquaintance had a solo show at a new art space in Stoke Newington. Tucked away in a little alley off Stoke Newington High Street – opposite the police station – is Basket House Village Universe.
The space was used as artist studios until the end of last year, but it has been renovated and opened in January as an art gallery (there are still two studios left next to the exhibition space).
The name puzzled me at first. Then I read the explanation on the website: “Inspired by the vernacular architecture of the Dogon people of Mali, the term Basket- House-Village-Universe was coined by Dutch architect Aldo van Eyck to describe the way in which the Dogon charge every material object from the smallest to the largest with extra meaning in line with the totality of creation.”
The most memorable piece in the show that finished last Sunday was Portrait of a Dance II – a video projection of dancing shadows onto the grey concrete floor. They started off as small and relatively abstract shapes before growing into recognisable human silhouettes.
The piece begins with the sounds of singing dancers approaching the stage. Eight dance sequences follow, tightly woven together, with the men and women dancing themselves into a frenzy, until the silhouetted bodies slowly disintegrate as they approach the centre of the room and their voices fade.
The dance was oddly mesmerising and I couldn’t bring myself to step into the circle and partake in the dance, as the exhibition blurb suggested. But I watched, transfixed.
The artist, Temsuyanger Longkumer, filmed a traditional dance in his native Nagaland in north east India, near the border with Burma. It is one of a series of works where he attempts to remove the distance between the viewers and the viewed.
An open summer show weekend is next at BHVU, from 9 to 11 July, where artists are invited to submit work for sale. This is followed by a Festival of paper from 15 to 25 July.
Basket House Village Universe (BHVU), Unit A, Leswin Place, London N16 7NJ
Open 12-5pm Saturday & Sunday during exhibitions, or by appointment