I Know Something About Love

9 March - 22 May 2011

‘I know something about love’, sing The Exciters in their first hit record ‘Tell him’ in 1962. This reoccurring lyric lends the multimedia group exhibition at Parasol unit its title. Shirin Neshat, Christodoulos Panayiotou, Yinka Shonibare, CBE and Yang Fudong investigate the theme of love in different times and cultures through the spectrum of their personal experience, observation and commentary.

Yinka Shonibare, CBE has re-created the installation Jardin d’amour (Garden of Love), which he originally showed in 2007 at the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris, albeit in a different configuration. In this work Shonibare applies a playful, yet a political perspective to his exploration of the theme of love in the eighteenth-century Rococo period in France. He creates scenes that resemble those familiar to us from paintings of that period. Set in a maze of ivy covered trellis, the installation includes secret hideaways and walks, along which wandering visitors discover The Confession, The Pursuit and The Crowning, three sculptural tableaux of beautifully dressed and affectionately engaged couples. Modelled after paintings by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, these tableaux of headless couples reflect this British-Nigerian artist’s relationship to and observation of historical events.

The Chinese artist, Yang Fudong uses the medium of moving image to explore the theme of love in one of his early works, the 3-channel video installation Flutter, Flutter… Jasmine, Jasmine, 2002. In it, Yang Fudong – known for his critical view on contemporary life in the rapidly changing society in China – looks into the private world of a young Chinese couple. Confused between traditional Chinese values and a modern way of looking at their relationship they question their feelings for one another.

Shirin Neshat examines the theme of love through the lenses of gender, probably as established and enforced since the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran. In her two-channel video work, Fervor, 2000, Neshat seems not only to highlight the frustration and helplessness of Iranian women in this paradigm, but also to demonstrate how the negative view of love within the revolutionary culture affects natural human feelings.

Slow dance marathon, 2005, by Cypriot artist Christodoulos Panayiotou, explores the social construction of love through pop music and the form of slow dancing. In this video documentation of a 24 hour long performance, a human chain is formed by strangers who slow dance to the music of well-known love songs. 

The exhibition is accompanied by a new publication with essays by Ziba Ardalan and Eva Illouz. It is distributed internationally by Koenig Books.