Somerset House Launches Curated Digital Platform With Exclusive Artists Commissions

Somerset House - Channel

Channel is Somerset House’s new curated online space for art, ideas and the artistic process. As well as presenting newly commissioned cross-disciplinary works, Channel explores and unpacks the artistic process, thinking and ideas that drive them. Drawing from Somerset House’s unique resident community, the digital platform will showcase a rolling programme of exclusive commissions, documentaries, films, podcasts, talks, interactive works and editorial content.

Somerset House - Channel

Channel launches today with its first commission: The Story Cycle by Turner Prize-nominated multimedia artist Sin Wai Kin who uses drag as a way to bring fantasy to life and to challenge identity, binary and objectification The Story Cycle follows two clowns searching for their place in an unfolding narrative set among strange infrastructures, told by an unreliable storyteller.

Shot entirely in Somerset House, the building serves as a metaphor for the body where cycles of listening, embodying and telling stories help construct our idea of human nature. Further commissions will follow later this year alongside fresh content added to Channel regularly.

The online programme also includes the film series ‘Artists in Focus’ produced by in-house filmmakers seen through the lens of the artists, aiming to demystify the journey of the creative practice, tracing it from the original idea to its final form.

The initial set of films focuses on the creative practice of Somerset House Studios residents Rene Matić, Saul Nash, Agnes Cameron and Sam Williams. Other exclusive documentaries available today include Latent Joy which follows the recent experimental ensemble performance developed by residents Vivienne Griffin and Paul Purgas at St Mary Le Strand and after the success of Gareth Pugh’s and Carson McColl’s This Bright Land festival, Channel will offer an account on the chosen family.

Channel additionally welcomes its own evolving series of podcasts kicking off with Echoic Archive by producer in residence Weyland McKenzie whose stylistic approach nods to the dub greats like King Tubby and Lee Scratch Perry. The series raises questions about the role of the artist in archiving with the themes of the episodes traversing African filmmakers, creative coding, mythology and climate change. It will now become the home to the six-part podcast series The Process produced by Alannah Chance which takes listeners behind the scenes with Gary Zhexi Zhang, Anna Meredith, Tyreis Holder amongst others on their journey to create new works.

Spatial Sound
Archiving the existing interactive digital commissions by Somerset House, viewers will be able to explore for the first time or revisit the spatial sound works by Zadie Xa, Kelman Duran, Loraine James, Lafawndah and Ben Vince from Assembly 2020 as well as Bumps per Minute – an interactive sound work by composer Anna Meredith. In addition, Decentralise will be available to explore and engage with objects from, and inspired by, Somerset House’s exhibition past, spanning Afro-nowism, Afrofuturism,
political arts and disobedient objects, through design, interaction and play.

In Conversation
As part of its ongoing programme, Channel introduces In Conversation, the talk series that kicks off with Eternally Yours moderated by curator Pelumi Odubanjo with artists Ellen Sampson and Ekta Kaul as well as a conversation between Sin Wai Kin and Róisín Tapponi. It will also incorporate the ongoing Grounding Practice series, showcasing discussions with Keiken and Nkisi and future artists to follow.
Existing documentaries, such as Leeroy New’s Vessels of Transformation, We Are History: Race, Colonialism and Climate Change by Rob Akin, I Came Apart at the Seams by Mary Sibande and The Making of Nimiia Cetii by Jenna Sutela will be streamable from today via Channel.
The editorial section of Channel will give a platform to curators, writers and artists who will offer their own insight into the commissions. The first piece published is a creative reflection on Sin Wai Kin’s practice, in the form of an open letter to the artist by interdisciplinary writer, editor and curator Imani Mason Jordan.

Already the home to over 200 artists and cultural innovators, Somerset House connects creativity and the arts with wider society to produce unexpected outcomes and unexplored futures all whilst intensifying creativity and multiplying opportunity to drive artistic and social innovation. Channel’s content has been created with accessibility in mind and will provide alternative ways of presenting information such as subtitles and transcripts.

“Channel: Art. Process. Ideas”

Channel has been developed with support from the UK Government’s Culture Recovery Fund through Arts Council England.

©2022 Somerset House, Channel