The diary of fig-2 artists: Josh Wright and Guillaume Vandame
The duo share their journey of how they turned around their exhibition in one week.
Our exhibition was a simple concept: transform the ICA Studio into an active working gym with free exercise classes and works of art inspired by the contemporary gym culture. What could we learn through this new context and how might this collaborative, participatory and environmental space inform our understanding of the art/life debate and issues of identity, gender, sexuality and representation?
Day 1: Monday – the opening
Despite some rain, there was a huge queue forming outside and the opening night began promptly at 6pm. The electronic music was blasting, the performers were exercising in their silver shorts and all-white trainers, the fluorescent pink and blue ‘gym & tonics’ by Sipsmith were swiftly making the rounds and our bespoke stamp hit the posters. And here we were being greeted by all our close friends and family who have supported us throughout the show, as well as guests from London Fashion Week and visitors who had never been to fig-2 before! This was everything we could have wanted and more. So far, so good.
Day 2: Tuesday
We started Tuesday with a really good beginning. We were given the rare chance to do a social media takeover and began actively promoting the show on Twitter and Instagram. Nicolette Wilson heralded the week with Ashtanga Yoga and in the afternoon we had zumba, attended by Candida Gertler from Outset, followed by meditation and a late night of VOGA, a fun mix of yoga and vogueing. Strike a pose!
Day 3: Wednesday
Wednesday was jam-packed with vinyasa yoga in the morning followed by pilates, meditation and our first artist-led exercise class, Post-Rave Sweat Fatigue Workout, taught by Adham Faramawy. The class was a blast and we all broke a sweat! Afterwards we went to the opening for Prem Sahib and chilled out with Wolfgang Tillmans in the Art Gym.
Day 4: Thursday
Thursday was similarly very busy with hatha yoga in the morning followed by an incredible workshop with the Art Fund attended by museum professionals from all over the UK. Marvin Gaye Chetwynd immediately followed this workshop with This is Insanity!, a three-part exercise class inspired by the popular INSANITY® workout and an article about the commodification of yoga. The colourful class was deliciously loud, liberating and inspiring in its ability to bring people together. It was totally insane!
Day 5: Friday
After a riotous week so far, we started Friday with a peaceful and powerful meditation yoga class followed by pilates and chi kung. We had a late lunch with friends and Gregor Muir stopped by to say hello. We finished the day with a tour and exercise class with our lovely friends from Milk, a contemporary architecture and design firm, who generously supported our exhibition.
Day 6: Saturday
The weekend began with a calming yin yoga class and was immediately followed by our first Salon Session with Francesca Steele, whose practice investigates body image and beauty. Following this informal conversation, Karimah Ashadu led Everlasting Yoga, a provocative performance questioning gender identity through her subversive stories. The day concluded with an exhilarating dance burn class filled with energy and sweat.
Day 7: Sunday
Our final day began with an unconventional yoga class led by us, followed by VOGA, our last exercise class for the week. We finished the weekend with another informal Salon Session on yoga mats discussing the exhibition. This was truly the most extraordinary week in our lives and, without a doubt, we would do it again in a heartbeat!
fig-2: 38/50: Josh Wright & Guillaume Vandame ran from 21 to 27 September.
The fig-2 project runs until 20 December.