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Fluxland – A Floating Centre to Inspire Debate on the Thames

September 15, 2016

ArtsMixed Media | by Harry Seymour


This month, a new conceptual work by the artist Cyril de Commarque floats down the Thames. The artwork takes the form of a barge, covered in angular mirrors – a floating sculpture that acts as stage for performance, interaction and debate. The 25 metre long former freight boat that has been a year in the making, will transverse the capital’s riverway for the duration of September, inviting audience participation from the banks of the water and inside. Inspired by Ancient Greek philosophical values of introspection, the boat’s mirrored surface invites both internal contemplation and reflection on the external world.

Cyril de Commarque is known for his wide range of media and output, inventing structures and machines that challenge how an audience interact with art. The subject of a recent solo show as MACRO in Rome, Commarque has made his latest aquatic venture look at political and personal boundaries and how personal freedoms are manifested both internally and in the outside world.

Fluxland, 2016, Cyril de Commarque, Photo credit Sam Jennings.
Fluxland, 2016, Cyril de Commarque, Photo credit Sam Jennings.

As it sails down the Thames, the boat will be both visible and audible to onlookers – the shiny surface will reflect the London skyline, amidst a soundscape of sampled noises the artist has collected from across the world being played through speakers across the city. Between journeys, the boat will be moored at Imperial Wharf Marina, inviting visitors to embark and experience first hand the immersive environment.
Taking its name from the inspirational 60’s Fluxus movement that birthed artists including Joseph Beuys and Yoko Ono, it saw artists stage happenings across the world. Similarly, Fluxland creates art that exists as an ephemeral experience, with each member of the audience having their own unique moment of interaction. Breaking down the boundaries of the gallery, the work creates unexpected encounters in the public sphere. Keynote speakers and important thinkers including Mark Rappolt, Fatima Bhutto and Sophie Hackford will hold a series of debates on the boat, focusing on ideas of politics, utopia and progress, with each being streamed live on the internet. Commarque’s work rides the wave of progressive 21st century artists who are taking art outside traditional walls and changing how an audience interact with concepts and ideas. It’s both innovative and informative, helping to inspire humanity to exist in a creative world where collectively, a move towards a utopia can be achieved. It’s a welcome shift in artistic production, and the sort of pioneering work that can benefit the audience through experience. Just don’t get sea sick.

Fluxland, Imperial Wharf Marina, SW6 2ZT, 8–30 September. For more information visit www.fluxland.co.uk