Image: Mandy El-Sayegh is the first recipient of London Gallery Weekend's performative public art commission
Mandy El-Sayegh, Performance rehearsal still, UTA Artist Space, Los Angeles, 2022. Photo: Josh S. Rose. Courtesy the artist and UTA Artist Space.
Artists' News

Mandy El-Sayegh is the first recipient of London Gallery Weekend's performative public art commission

29 April 2022

London Gallery Weekend, the free public event which celebrates art galleries in the UK capital, has announced artist Mandy El-Sayegh as the first recipient of its performative public art commission, which has been developed in collaboration with public art commissioners UP Projects. London Gallery Weekend has also named the 18 regional museums and galleries receiving funding from its inaugural partnership with Art Fund, designed to strengthen relationships between London’s galleries and the UK’s regional institutions. The second edition of London Gallery Weekend will take place from Friday 13 to Sunday 15 May 2022 and feature more than 150 participating galleries, making it the biggest gallery weekend event in the world.

Mandy El-Sayegh, The Minimum

London-based artist El-Sayegh - whose paintings, immersive installations, performances and videos are rooted in an exploration of material and language - has been selected for London Gallery Weekend’s first public art performance, in partnership with UP Projects for her proposal The Minimum. Created in collaboration with choreographer Alethia Antonia and composer Lily Oakes, this new work centres around an installation and performance that invites people in different public locations across the city to consider how bodies make themselves visible within the framework of certain sets of restrictions. It will take place three times during London Gallery Weekend across the different focal areas, Central London, South London and East London.

"This exciting new co-commission by London Gallery Weekend and UP Projects is an unparalleled opportunity to experience a visceral, site-specific performance in three public locations in London by Mandy El-Sayegh, one of the most exciting young artists working today. Fusing her painting, installation and performance practices, Mandy's work addresses urgent topics of our time, exploring that terrain personally and geopolitically in a way that is deeply affecting, and relevant to a broad audience." 

– Bengi Ünsal, Director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts

Exploring bodies in regulated spaces, The Minimum centres around a painted installation roughly the size of a solitary confinement cell. Also known as segregated housing, such cells are used to maximise the security of a community while minimising the autonomy of the subjects they hold. Far from neutral spaces, they are grounds that oppress sensory stimulation, extracting dignity from illicit bodies. For El-Sayegh, the modality between maximum and minimum becomes a space through which the vulnerable body can articulate itself.

El-Sayegh was selected by a panel of industry experts: Jo Baxendale (Senior Policy Officer Visual Art and Public Realm), Bengi Ünsal (Director, Institute of Contemporary Arts), Dr. Zoé Whitley (Director, Chisenhale Gallery), Emma Underhill (Founding Director, UP Projects) and Moira Lascelles (Deputy Director, UP Projects). El-Sayegh was shortlisted from a list of artists nominated by galleries participating in London Gallery Weekend. 

"London Gallery Weekend’s new performance commission in partnership with UP Projects is integral to our mission of expanding the visibility of London's galleries and their artists with a wider public audience. Creating this new platform for performance art in London underlines the medium's importance within artistic practice and how contemporary art is experienced. It's really about forging a deeper connection with as diverse an audience as possible - particularly since the artist selected by the panel will be performing in distinct contexts and to different audiences in Central, South and East London over the course of the weekend." 

– Sarah Rustin, Co-Director of London Gallery Weekend

London Gallery Weekend has co-commissioned this performance with UP Projects, which has more than 20 years’ experience of commissioning progressive and impactful public art projects that bring public audiences and communities together with contemporary artistic practice.

“UP Projects are delighted to be collaborating with London Gallery Weekend to commission Mandy El-Sayegh to create ‘The Minimum’ in three publicly accessible sites across London. As a charity with 20 years experience of commissioning public art, our mission is to support artists to create new work that enables audiences to encounter and connect with extraordinary contemporary art in unexpected places.” 

– Emma Underhill, Founding Director, UP Projects

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