United Kingdom

London’s Old Vic to show art in labyrinthine tunnels

The theatre run by actor Kevin Spacey plans to hold screenings, performances and exhibitions in the disused spaces beneath Waterloo station

london. The British capital has a dramatic new venue for contemporary art. London’s Old Vic theatre, which is run by the actor Kevin Spacey, has acquired the lease on a cavernous labyrinth of disused tunnels beneath Waterloo station.

The new space, which has been named the Old Vic Tunnels, will be used for performances, film screenings and at least four curated exhibitions. The lease for the tunnels was acquired for £100 from Lambeth Council and is valid for one year. Hamish Jenkinson, director of the space, says he hopes to renew it next year.

“My hope is to be able to convince some of the big collectors in England and abroad who have vast collections hidden away in storage that they should bring these out and show them [with us],” says Jenkinson.

As well as these exhibitions, all theatre productions in the space will include “elements of art”, according to Jenkinson, who says he has “big ideas” about what could be done if the funding can be found. He says he is in talks with Joe La Placa of All Visual Arts—who represents artists Paul Fryer and Alastair Mackie among others—and art dealer Steve Lazarides.

Lazarides is planning a show in October to coincide with Frieze Art Fair, which is “loosely based on Dante’s Inferno. I might line up ten guys with pit bulls on chains at the entrance to set the scene for people coming in”, he says.

The Old Vic used the tunnels for a free two-week performance in May 2009 entitled Tunnel 228—a collaboration with the theatre company Punchdrunk that was sponsored by Bloomberg. Actors posed as workers cleaning railway tracks in a performance inspired by Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. Work by 20 artists including Antony Micallef, Paul Fryer and Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller was also on display.

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