Fantastic Cities is the first major art exhibition of artist and director Penny Woolcock (b. 1950, Buenos Aires), an unparalleled pioneer in contemporary visual culture in the UK.
Woolcock, who began her artistic practice in Oxford in the 1970s, is widely celebrated for her creatively incisive approach to exploring issues of social inequality. Her award-winning work, both compassionate and challenging, centres on personal stories of how power and influence impact marginalised communities, and spans street-cast fiction films, operas, documentaries, and major multi-participant arts projects such as Utopia (Roundhouse, 2015) and Exodus (Artangel, 2007).
As well as bringing together pivotal works from the artist’s career since 2015, this exhibition presents three new moving-image commissions: When the Same Road is a Different Road (2018), a dynamic new film installation that presents the startlingly different responses of two individual narratives, one the artist and the other a young gang member, on a short walk through the same city streets; When I First Saw A Gun (2018), a honest reflections on personal gun use from a range of diverse people; and Fantastic Cities (2018), a sound and film installation interrogating the mythology of Oxford and Los Angeles, two cities famously represented by fictitious narratives created through film and literature. Fantastic Cities explores the idea that, for many, the lived experience of these cities may at times be more unexpected that fiction.all images © the gallery and the artist(s)