From 10 May, the Barbican will feature the exhibition Jam: Tokyo-London, a selection of artists and designers from both Tokyo and London, who are working at the forefront of new technology and popular culture.
You might be forgiven for thinking this is an attempt to raise the centre’s profile and change the slightly fusty image of a backward-looking space that offers fans of contemporary art and design very little. Yet in 1996, the gallery played host to the first Jam, hailed then as one of Britain’s most experimental and innovative exhibitions. Based on the idea of a musical jam, it brought creatives outside the fine arts arena – including Nick Knight, Fuel, Tomato, Rankin, Alexander McQueen and AntiRom – together in a celebration of the best in photography, graphic design, fashion, illustration and digital media.
Five years on, Jam has been resurrected, but this time it’s bigger, expanding to the nearby Dazed & Confused Gallery on London’s Old Street and Artomatic’s gallery on London’s Great Sutton Street.
And it’s an international incident, kicking off London’s Japan 2001 festival with specially created and existing work by around 45 creatives from both the East and the West.
According to its press release, Jam will “offer a unique overview of urban culture at the start of the new millennium”. A year later, the exhibition will be shown at the Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery. The mix promises to be as eclectic, visionary and of its moment, as the last Jam show was, which isn’t too surprising given that the original curator, Liz Farrelly, is back on board as part of a panel of advisors, which also includes cultural commentator Ekow Eshun.
With support from The British Council and the Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, exhibition design by product and furniture designers Shin and Tomoko Azumi and a website by digital media group Airside (creator of the website www.whitecube.com), Jam could be the hot show of the summer – after Tracey Emin – and assuming it’s got its participants right, of course.
So has it? Browse the website, at www.online jam.co.uk, for the line-up and for the lowdown on just a few of the design-led cultural jammers.
Jam: Tokyo-London at the Barbican Gallery from 10 May until 8 July. Contact 020 7638 8891 for more details
The book Jam: Tokyo-London is edited by Liz Farrelly, published by Barbican Art/ Booth Clibborn Editions in May and priced £19.95