Ron Arad’s Curtain Call makes the audience both captive and creator.
Israeli artist, i Ron Arad’s immersive 360-degree Curtain Call at The Roundhouse will engulf you and make your hair stand on end
There’s a famous saying about the 60s: If you can remember anything you really weren’t there. It’s been attributed to comedian Robin Williams and musician Grace Slick amongst others. Whoever said it I disagree: I remember an all-nighter circa 1966 at the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm and if there was one place “where it was at” that was it. I remember puddles, grimy pillars and cavernous spaces. And, of course, the psychedelic oil-slides.
There are echoes of those hypnotic projections in a mesmerising installation, Ron Arad’s Curtain Call, which currently occupies the circular main space of the historic industrial building to mark its 50th anniversary as an arts venue. The immersive 360-degree floor to ceiling artwork, made of 5,600 platinum-cured silicon rods suspended from an 18-metre ring, looks solid but flows like a curtain when moved. It provides a flexible canvas for performance and films by some of Arad’s favourite artists.
Audience interaction is encouraged. “Walk in, penetrate, cross the moving images to get inside the cylinder,” says Arad. “You’ll be engulfed by images –a captive, but also a creator.” The way it makes arm hair stand on end when touched intrigues younger visitors. I was reminded of the Penetrables of Venezuelan op and kinetic artist Jesus Rafael Soto - interactive constructions of thin dangling tubes.
Arad is an Israeli industrial designer, architect and artist who often uses advanced technology. In 2005 he designed chandeliers for the Swarovski crystal company which incorporated light-emitting diodes to display text messages. His scary sculpture Thought of Train of Thought - a giant, twisted, rotating blade of polished aluminium - is the second public artwork commissioned in the four-year partnership between the Royal Academy and St Pancras International. Installed in July, it is suspended on wires above the Eurostar platforms and will remain in place until January.
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Curtain Call was first shown at the Roundhouse in 2011 and many of the artists then participating have returned, including Swiss American Christian Marclay whose playful short film Pianorama features an endless piano and at least three sets of hands. New collaborators include the digital art and design collective Universal Everything, the Israeli composer and animator Kutiman, and Marshmallow Laser Feast, famed for their spectacular musical laser installations.
Tonight is the world premiere of two musical works commissioned for Arad’s installation from CHAINES and Mica Levi. These are part of a programme, including Yoko Ono’s Sky Piece to Jesus Christ, which will be performed by the London Contemporary Orchestra.
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Access to Curtain Call, which is part of Bloomberg Summer at the Roundhouse, requires a ticket for this event (£15). Otherwise standard admission is £5 from 12pm to 6pm weekdays and £7 after 6pm and weekends. Until Monday. Box office 0300 6789222. Website: