Ksenia Zemtsova is the co-founder of Art Night, a hugely ambitious free contemporary art festival that takes place in dedicated parts of London over one summer weekend.
Art Night is growing year by year, and recently completed its third and most ambitious festival—attracting some 70,000 visitors to 50 sites to experience 150 artists.
It’s dedicated to widening audiences for contemporary art and offering them the opportunity to present bold new work outside the gallery walls.
Ksenia and her small but ambitious team have bold plans for 2019 which, for now, are under wraps.
“I studied Political Science, but I was always interested in cultural policies and how we can bridge the cultural sector of the arts with the public urban realm.”[5:15]
The idea behind Art Night is to have the festival running as late as possible, so some of the projects will run as late as 6 a.m. One of the goals is to explore unusual venues, secret locations, and re purpose heritage sites and public spaces. However, Art Night isn’t just about visual art—Ksenia has made sure that different disciplines are all included. Performance, dance, music, video installations, and Virtual Reality exhibits are also extremely popular.
“I think it’s really striking when you walk in the city and suddenly you see this house that seems like it has fallen from somewhere like the wizard of oz”[15:00]
South Korean artist Do Ho Suh was commissioned to create a striking work of art—recreating his childhood home on top a pedestrian bridge spanning Wormwood Street, an instillation called Bridging Home, London. The house itself is stunning, a traditional Korean abode looking as if it could lean and topple over to the street at any moment. Of course this was commissioned to go along with the theme of this particular Art Night: Home.[22:30]
The British Interplanetary Society was re purposed as well, for a full week, to house an instillation called Space Refugee. The building itself acts as a think tank for interplanetary scientists and it houses a menagerie of space faring relics and memorabilia.
Going again with the theme of home, Space Refugee is about the first Syrian cosmonaut in space, and his subsequent joining of the resistance during the Syrian War. The project follows his idea that the only place that would host refugees at some point would be space.
Again, Art Night seems to be growing by the year—but Ksenia wants to focus more on the quality of the art than funneling more people through it. At 70,000 participants that’s very understandable.
The goal is to continue to experiment and explore these spaces in London, bringing on new artists such as Liv Wynter (a previous guest on the podcast) and having her host a spoken word marathon at the Garden Museum, drawing a crowd the museum had likely never seen before. It’s this spirit of discovery and juxtaposition that is sure to keep Art Night one of the most exciting events London has to offer for years to come.